FATCA Update: First-ever conviction signals increased enforcement risk

The former CEO of Saint Vincent-based Loyal Bank pleaded guilty and was convicted on 11 September of conspiring to defraud the US by failing to comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). This is the first conviction obtained by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) since FATCA came into effect in 2014 and was the result of a sting operation. The FBI worked with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the City of London Police, the UK Financial Conduct Authority and the Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation. The offender’s sentencing date is yet to be scheduled and he is facing a maximum of five years in prison.

This conviction, on the heels of a US governmental report critical of the IRS’s limited use of FATCA, could mark a more active enforcement environment going forward. Under FATCA, certain foreign financial institutions (FFI) must report US citizens’ account information to the IRS and the US has intergovernmental agreements with Hong Kong and other Asian jurisdictions to facilitate this. The DOJ has indicated that financial institutions in Hong Kong and Singapore are on the US authorities’ priority list in terms of FATCA enforcement. As such, both US citizens and financial institutions in the region should remain cognisant of FATCA’s requirements and ensure compliance. For our full briefing on the conviction, please click here.

 

Kyle Wombolt
Kyle Wombolt
Head of Global Corporate Crime & Investigations Practice, Hong Kong
+852 2101 4005
Robert Hunt
Robert Hunt
Partner, Hong Kong
+852 2101 4128
Pamela Kiesselbach
Pamela Kiesselbach
Senior Registered Foreign Lawyer (England and Wales), Hong Kong
+852 2101 4032

Jeremy Birch
Jeremy Birch
Senior Associate, Hong Kong
+852 2101 4195

The EU publishes a list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions

On 5 December 2017, the EU published its list of 17 non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes. The list forms part of the EU’s work to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance, presenting a united front to dealing with non-EU jurisdictions that, in the EU’s view, encourage abusive tax practices. The 17 jurisdictions identified are: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, Korea (Republic of), Macao SAR, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates. Continue reading