- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

MIAMI (AP) - The second U.S. citizen charged in wide-ranging tax probe of Swiss banking giant UBS AG pleaded guilty Tuesday to filing a false tax return to conceal a secret account at the Swiss bank holding more than $3 million

Robert Moran, president of Fort Lauderdale-based Moran Yacht and Ship, entered the plea in federal court the same day the single charge was unsealed. Moran, who reached a plea deal with prosecutors, faces up to three years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines when sentenced on June 26.

Prosecutors said Moran, 57, failed on his 2007 U.S. tax return to report his interest in a UBS account and did not report any income earned on the account, which was in the name of a Panamanian shell company called Winter Drive Investments.

Moran is the second U.S. citizen charged since February, when UBS turned over dozens of names of account holders suspected of concealing income from the Internal Revenue Service in a deferred prosecution agreement. A Boca Raton accountant currently free on $12 million bail is scheduled to enter a plea next week to similar charges.

“We will continue to prosecute those who use offshore schemes to avoid paying their taxes,” said Miami U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta.

Linda Stiff, the IRS deputy commissioner, urged people who concealed money in offshore accounts to come forward under a voluntary disclosure program. Those taxpayers could still be forced to pay back taxes and penalties but probably would avoid criminal prosecution.

“It’s better to come clean now instead of waiting and facing a heavier price later,” Stiff said.

An agreement Moran signed with prosecutors says that he had about $3.4 million in his UBS account as of December 2007, compared with about $1.5 million six years earlier. The agreement also acknowledges that Moran met frequently with UBS bankers at his home in Lighthouse Point and hotels in Boca Raton.

The U.S. Justice Department has also brought criminal charges against a UBS executive in Miami _ that executive is currently a fugitive living in Switzerland _ and obtained a guilty plea from a former executive, who is cooperating with prosecutors.

In addition, the IRS has sued UBS in Miami federal court seeking identities of some 52,000 account holders who may be concealing income from the U.S. government. UBS is contesting that lawsuit, contending that turning over those names would violate Swiss law.

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