Pilot School Owners Go to Prison Over Swiss Bank Accounts

Sean Roberts and Nadia Roberts of Tehachapi, California were sentenced today before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Anthony W. Ishii in Fresno to 12 months and 1 day in prison for hiding millions of dollars in secret offshore Swiss bank accounts and other banks around the world.

The Roberts were also ordered to pay the Internal Revenue Service $709,675 in restitution, and more than $2.5 million to resolve their civil liability with the IRS for failing to file the required Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Reports.

The criminal actions by the Roberts were made possible by UBS, which in February 2009 entered into a so-called deferred prosecution agreement whereby the bank admitted to helping U.S. taxpayers hide accounts from the IRS. As part of the agreement, UBS provided the U.S. government with the identities of, and account information for, certain U.S. customers of UBS’s cross-border business, including the Roberts.

Sean and Nadia Roberts filed false individual U.S. income tax return for 2004 through 2008 because they failed to report that they had an interest in or a signature authority over a secret Swiss bank account at UBS, which was subsequently transferred to the Swiss branch of a Liechtenstein bank.

They also failed to report several other foreign accounts in the Isle of Man, Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Africa. The Roberts failed to report any income earned on the foreign accounts and falsely deducted millions of dollars in transfers from their domestic business to the Swiss bank accounts on their corporate tax returns.

The false deductions allowed the Roberts to under-report their income on their individual income tax returns. The Roberts previously operated the National Test Pilot School (NTPS) in Mojave, Calif.  NTPS is a non-profit educational institute that trains test pilots from domestic and foreign aerospace industries and governments. The Roberts also owned and operated Flight Research Incorporated, which owns and maintains most of the aircraft used by NTPS.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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