Must Have Been A MASH Fan: Hot Lips Was Code Name For Man’s Hidden Offshore Account
Using the code name Hot Lips with Swiss banking representatives, an 83-year-old Delray Beach man conspired to hide more than $1 million from the Internal Revenue Service in foreign bank accounts.
Bernard Kramer pleaded guilty Tuesday in New York federal court before U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, admitting he filed false federal income tax returns from 1987 to 2012.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 6 and faces a maximum prison sentence of eight years. Prosecutors say Kramer is cooperating and will pay a $588,000 penalty and back taxes.
The plea is evidence of the continued prosecution of U.S. taxpayers hiding money at the Swiss bank UBS.
Prosecutors said Kramer hid the money in private banks in Zurich, Switzerland, including UBS, and at an undisclosed bank headquartered in Ramat Gan, Israel.
“Kramer and certain individuals at the Swiss bank used the coded phrase ‘Hot Lips’ to refer to Kramer’s undeclared account at the Swiss bank,” according to the news release by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York.
Kramer met representatives of a Swiss bank in the U.S. periodically as well. Eventually, the undeclared money was repatriated to the U.S. in amounts under $10,000 each time to ensure authorities did not discover the account, Bharara’s office said.
UBS became a target of a Justice Department investigation in 2008 for assisting U.S. taxpayers in hiding assets.
The IRS offered U.S. account holders to report their financial transgressions to avoid criminal penalties, and many did, but Kramer choose to maintain his secret accounts, Bharara said.
Kramer is one of several Floridians who hid money at UBS. His account was discovered in March 2010 when he transferred his remaining assets from Switzerland to the bank in Israel.