Former SD Lawyer Charged with Stashing Funds Offshore

Former San Diego attorney Christopher Rusch was charged in Phoenix today (Jan. 30) with defrauding the Internal Revenue Service by stashing funds in Switzerland. Rusch and two Phoenix area businessmen were charged with concealing millions of dollars in assets in numerous accounts at UBS (the former Union Bank of Switzerland) and elsewhere, according to the Justice Department and IRS. A grand jury indictment was returned Dec. 8, 2011, and unsealed today. Rusch was arrested yesterday in Miami after being removed from Panama by Panamanian authorities. In San Diego, Rusch was an attorney specializing in offshore structures, among other things. Rusch assisted the Phoenix businessmen in hiding the funds in Switzerland, and had his own accounts in Switzerland and Panama. The charges carry a maximum of five years in prison plus a $250,000 fine.

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Forgive my ignorance, but is it illegal to have offshore bank accounts?

It is not necessarily illegal to have an offshore bank account, but it is very definitely illegal to use the account for the purpose of evading taxes. That's what Rusch and his clients are charged with. Mitt Romney has money in the Caymans and had money in Switzerland. He claims he paid taxes on everything stashed in the havens. But did he? Did he pay taxes on some of what he had in the havens but concealed other money there? Remember, these are SECRECY havens, too. Also, one reason for having money in these havens is dodging disclosure that you might have to go through in the U.S. Best, Don Bauder

Offshore accounts are legal, as long as you disclose the existence of the account on your tax filing. For example, Don could organize a corporation in the Cayman Islands or the Netherland Antilles which he would own. He could transfer $1 million to the corporation and start trading stocks. U.S. tax law states that foreign corporations owned by U.S. citizens are not taxed on capital gains earned in the U.S. Don could make as much money as he wants trading stocks through his offshore corporation and he would not owe a penny of U.S. tax. Don would only pay U.S. tax if he took money out of the corporation. He would pay the 15% dividend tax on any funds he removed from the corporation, to the extent the corporation had profits. This is legal. Congress set it up this way.

As I have said many times, scams are often legal. If I set up a corporation in the Caymans or Barbados or Liechtenstein, and am not taxed for capital gains made in the U.S., I am depriving my country of tax revenue. Sorry, I don't approve of that, legal or not. This is a point with Mitt Romney. He may have paid what he legally owed through the Cayman Islands entities, but in doing so he was depriving his country of capital gains tax revenue. Best, Don Bauder

I don't approve of offshore tax avoidance either. Voters should be aware that Congress enacted the laws that enable Mitt Romney, Gerald Parsky and many other wealthy speculators to dodge their taxes while placing the full burden of supporting the government on the rest of us. Then the wealthly turn around and claim they are being taxed to death. We can see from Mitt's tax returns that he paid $3 million in tax on $22 million in income. This is truly pathetic. Romney and his ilk are writing the rules for themselves through their control of Congress and screwing the rest of us.

Yes, B is 100% correct. Big Business is writing the rules.

40% of all new bills are written by special interests and 60% of all new bills that are passed into law are written by special interests.

The banking industry wrote the 2005 BK revisions where you had to go thru a repayment plan if you had income, They WROTE THE LAW.

Right you are SurfPup. Michael Moore brought that out poignantly in one of his movies, but I have forgotten which one. What's laughable and pathetic, really, is the number of business executives professing that government is interfering with the smooth running of their businesses. But those same business executives are the recipients of massive government largesse in the form of corporate welfare, have armies of lobbyists writing or plumping for legislation providing them with multitudinous tax breaks, subsidies, ad nauseam. Best, Don Bauder

Agree wholeheartedly, Burwell. You might be interested in my column appearing this week -- early Wednesday online. It touches on many of these points. If Romney wins the nomination, I hope there is a national dialogue on these matters. Best, Don Bauder

And I also hope that if Christopher Rusch and his cohorts are in fact guilty and sentenced to prison, that they be gang raped by the other prisoners. They should get what's coming to them in spades.

Unfortunately, Burwell, if found guilty, they will probably be sentenced to a country club prison where such activities don't take place. Best, Don Bauder

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