The federal government is suing a Dutchess County couple for $2.1 million for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act for allegedly concealing assets overseas.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman accused Sarah and John Glaister of Salt Point of willfully failing to disclose their interests in several foreign bank accounts, according to complaints filed May 7 in U.S. District Court in White Plains.
The Bank Secrecy Act “combats tax evasion and abusive tax schemes using offshore bank accounts,” according to the complaints, “particularly in jurisdictions with bank secrecy laws that may hinder the enforcement of U.S. law.”
U.S. citizens who have more than $10,000 in overseas accounts must file an annual Foreign Bank Account Report, commonly known as the FBAR.
The Glaisters, British subjects and naturalized U.S. citizens, allegedly held as much as $200,000 to $3.9 million, from 2009 to 2014, in Swiss, French and UK banks.
Sarah E. Glaister, for instance, allegedly had up to $3.9 million in five Le Credit Lyonnais accounts in France and $350,000 in PKB Privatbank in Switzerland.
Bank statements for the French account were mailed to her address in Salt Point, according to the complaint.
The PKB Privatbank account was funded with a trust fund she inherited from a relative, formed under the law of the Bahamas, based in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, and using a mailing address in the Principality of Monaco. When the account was closed in 2015, the complaint states, PKB was told to transfer $56,749 to her account at Bank of America in New York.
John K. Glaister held as much as $200,000 in National Westminster Bank in London. The government describes him as a real estate consultant with clients in Germany and Scotland. Bank statements were sent to him at Estreich & Company, a real estate finance broker in Manhattan.
He allegedly used the account to “deposit funds that appear to be from income earned abroad,” the complaint states, “which he did not report on his U.S. tax returns.”
The Glaisters acknowledged only the French bank accounts on some of their joint tax returns, according to the complaints, and stated that they were not required to file FBARs. Sarah Glaister filed sporadic reports for the French bank accounts.
In 2012, their accountant, Mehernosh Motashaw, alerted the couple to the requirement to submit annual reports, but Sarah allegedly “did not submit timely FBARs disclosing the PKB or LCL accounts for the calendar years at issue.”
In 2017, the Internal Revenue Service issued summons to the Glaisters and Motashaw to produce records. They turned over some documents, IRS revenue agent Sylwia M. Juskowiak states in an affidavit, but failed to fully comply with the demands.
In July 2017, Sarah Glaister invoked her right under the Fifth Amendment to remain silent, according to Juskowiak, in response to most questions in an interview, under oath, with the IRS.
The following month, John Glaister did the same, invoking the Fifth Amendment 279 times during a 77-minute interview.
Juskowiak states that they also made “blanket assertions” of the spousal and tax practitioner privileges.
Motashaw also refused to answer any questions outside the presence of John Glaister and the Glaisters’ attorney.
The IRS assessed $2,026,969 in FBAR penalties against Sarah Glaister and $121,669 against John Glaister.
Their attorney, Frank Agostino of Hackensack, New Jersey, did not immediately reply to a request for his client’s side of the story.
The lawsuits were filed to enforce the assessments. The government is represented by Samuel Dolinger, an assistant U.S. attorney.