Industry News

'John Doe' disclosure notice served on US owner of Panamanian firm

Thursday, 26 January, 2017

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has obtained a so-called 'John Doe summons' against the director of a Panamanian company claimed by the IRS to have helped American taxpayers to set up anonymous offshore accounts.

The summons demands all records of Sovereign Management & Legal's clients (SML). The phrase 'John Doe' indicates that the US authorities do not know the clients' identities, but the summons applies to them irrespectively of that fact.

According to the US Department of Justice (USDoJ), the company issued clients with prepaid debit cards called 'Sovereign Gold Cards' that enabled them to access the funds in the offshore accounts 'in such a manner as to evade their obligations under internal revenue laws'. The accounts, says the USDoJ, were opened by SML in the names of corporations that were owned by other entities such as fake charitable foundations, and held in the name of nominee officers provided by SML.

US District Court Judge Brian Morris found that there is a reasonable basis for believing that US taxpayers may be using Sovereign Gold Cards to violate federal tax laws.

  • Virtual currency exchange, Coinbase, has announced that it is seeking official entry to the case challenging the John Doe summons issued against it by the IRS in November 2016. The IRS ordered the company to disclose data of all its users between 2013 and 2015, but attorney Jeffrey Berns launched a legal challenge in December 2016, which Coinbase now seeks to join, against the subpoena.

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