Indian American sentenced to 6 months in jail for hiding offshore accounts from the IRS

Ashvin Desai had stashed away $8 million in India, UAE.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: An Indian American resident of San Jose, Ashvin Desai, was sentenced on Tuesday to six months behind bars for hiding money from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in off-shore bank accounts in India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Desai was indicted in 2011 and convicted in October of last year for concealing more than $8 million from federal tax collectors. On top of that amount, federal prosecutors estimated that Desai accrued around $1.2 million interest off of the two accounts – one in India, one in the UAE – while he held the money there between 2007 and 2009.

For those two years, Desai only paid about $17,000 in taxes, but owed an addition $357,783, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. In 2008, for example, he reported $115,810.91 in income to the US government, but deposited $1.1 million in his foreign bank accounts.

In the initial indictment, the Justice Department alleged that Desai’s wife and two adult children were complicit in the crime, and that they also hid money of their own in these accounts, but they have not been named in the sentence. Desai is the owner of a medical device company, and during the two years between 2007 and 2009, would sell devices abroad and tell clients to wire his fees into the two offshore accounts in India and the UAE.

Desai repeatedly lied on federal tax forms and Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs). Evidence produced at his trial indicates that Desai was well aware of what he was doing, and emails were shown that reveal Desai telling various bankers he was engaged with, such as one with HSBC, not to send statements to his home address because he and the banks “had a different arrangement.”

The FBAR penalty levied against Desai for his crime will equal a staggering $14,229,744. Additionally, Desai will have to spend six months and one day in home confinement.

Desai was sentenced by US District Judge Edward J. Davila; the case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation, and was prosecuted at trial by attorney Melissa Siskind of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division.

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