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U.S. authorities' tax-fraud probes continuing with force

Tax-focused criminal probes are never back-burner concerns for U.S. authorities, with legions of Americans being readily able to attest to that.

In fact, residents in Texas and elsewhere across the country are routinely targeted and need diligent -- that is, proven and aggressive -- legal representation when they discover they are targeted in a tax-fraud matter.

And that is a commonplace. We duly note on our criminal defense website at the Houston law firm of Hilder & Associates, P.C., that, "Federal and state governments have made the investigation and criminal prosecution of various [tax and other] frauds a high priority."

Many Americans familiar with the acronym FATCA -- the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act -- know well the zeal and follow through linked with FATCA probes into overseas financial accounts held by American citizens.

Notably, and while those investigations have been going on for several years now, they have reportedly been increasing in scope recently.

As noted in a Reuters article, American prosecutors "have been widening their probe of Swiss banks who have been helping wealthy American clients dodge taxes to include insurance companies."

Specifically, their focus is on an investment vehicle/strategy called "insurance wrapping." The concept is relatively simply: clients put monies linked with stocks and various other equity holdings into their policies.

Investigators say that the strategy is illegal when those assets are secreted in the policies and gain value that is not lawfully reported and for which taxed owed are never paid.

Switzerland's largest life insurer, Swiss Life, is finding out just how exacting and punishing a FATCA-driven investigation by American criminal authorities can be. The insurer has been centrally identified as a participant in many wrapping portfolios involving American customers. Reportedly, the company could be on the hook for a fine of $70 million or more.

And, of course, its customers who U.S. authorities say used wrapping vehicles to avoid the lawful payment of taxes will be aggressively pursued as criminal suspects.

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