Date
20 September 2017
Singapore's banks and financial firms have been spared the scrutiny of US tax evasion investigators -- until now. Photo: Bloomberg
Singapore's banks and financial firms have been spared the scrutiny of US tax evasion investigators -- until now. Photo: Bloomberg

US tax evasion crackdown widens net to Singapore

Criminal investigators at the US Internal Revenue Service are looking into whether a Singapore asset-management firm accepted transfers from undeclared Swiss accounts closed by US taxpayers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The investigation is an expansion of the US crackdown on undeclared offshore accounts that began in Switzerland in 2009, the report said, citing unnamed lawyers.

Since then, US officials have pursued banks, lawyers and asset managers that have helped US taxpayers hide money abroad in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Israel, India and the Caribbean.

Until now, there was little indication they had widened their probe to Southeast Asia.

“The IRS and Justice Department seem be turning their focus east, where there are many US taxpayers with accounts — so it could be fertile ground,” the report quoted Bryan Skarlatos, a lawyer with Kostelanetz & Fink in New York, which has represented nearly 2,000 taxpayers with undeclared offshore accounts, as saying.

Scott Michel, a lawyer with Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, said Singapore may be more willing to cooperate with US officials about unreported accounts than some other countries.

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