If you own or have signature authority over a foreign account and put in the name of another entity in order to hide it from the IRS or avoid the FBAR disclosure requirements, you can count on a criminal prosecution if the IRS catches you.
Wolfgang Roessel has been convicted of filing a false tax return, a felony punishable by up to 3 years in federal prison Brian Mahany of Due Diligence reports:
Roessel is a U.S. citizen and resident of Florida. He inherited several million dollars in a Swiss account after his mother died in 1999. Rather than repatriate the money or file the required FBAR forms (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account), Roessel transferred the account from his own name to a nominee account called Neptune Trust. Prosecutors said he owned and controlled the trust which was registered in Liechtenstein.
They say he also created an International Business Corporation in Belize and used that to open an account as well.
The IRS says that even before his mother died, Roessel had his own unreported Swiss account at Wegelin & Co, Switzerland’s oldest private bank.
Nominee accounts are often used to conceal one’s ownership interest in the account. By using foreign business entities, offshore trustees and titling the accounts in the name of a third party, tax officials have a tougher time identifying the real beneficial owner of the funds. One the government does find out, however, account holders can expect an indictment unless the account was properly reported.