RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- Ridgefield resident George Landegger, CEO of International Pulp Mill Co., pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to hiding over $8.4 million in secret Swiss bank accounts, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Landegger, 77, admitted to willfully failing to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBARs, with the IRS regarding secret Swiss bank accounts that he maintained and controlled at a Swiss private bank headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland.
He kept his money at the bank from at least the early 2000s up until 2010. During that time, Landegger's undeclared assets reached a high value of over $8.4 million, Bharara said.
In 2005, a representative of the Swiss bank recommended Landegger form a sham business entity in an effort to protect both Landegger and the bank as well as conceal the funds from the IRS, Bharara said.
In 2009, Landegger and his adviser from the bank in Switzerland agreed to begin slowly moving the funds into a declared account in Canada and an undeclared account run by another individual in Hong Kong, Bharara said.
“As he admitted, George Landegger maintained secret Swiss bank accounts he repeatedly failed to declare to the IRS, and he took steps to conceal his ownership of the accounts," Bharara said in a statement. "The benefits of citizenship or residency in the United States come with certain obligations, including, as George Landegger well knew, the legal requirement to report foreign bank accounts. He will now pay for his illegal conduct.”
Landegger entered his guilty plea Friday, Jan. 16, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman.
“The Internal Revenue Service has made uncovering hidden offshore accounts and income a top priority and, working with the Department of Justice, we continue to demonstrate our success in doing so," said IRS Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Thomas E. Bishop, who assisted in the investigation.
"The prosecutions of individuals who decide to keep their foreign assets concealed and of those who advise and assist them serve as clear warnings to anyone who doubts the U.S. government’s resolve.”
Landegger faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan on May 12. As part of his plea, he has agreed to pay a civil penalty of over $4.2 million and back taxes of over $71,000.
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