U.S. Taxpayer in Panama Papers Investigation Sentenced to Prison

New York - A former U.S. resident and taxpayer was sentenced in the Southern District of New York to four years in prison for wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, false statements, and other charges.

Harald Joachim von der Goltz, aka H.J von der Goltz, Johan von der Goltz, Jochen von der Goltz, Tica, and Tika, 83, of Needham, Massachusetts, and Key Biscayne, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit tax evasion; one count of wire fraud; one count of money laundering conspiracy; four counts of willful failure to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FinCEN Reports 114; and two counts of false statements before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Berman ordered von der Goltz to serve three years of supervised release, to pay forfeiture in the amount of $5,373,609 and restitution in the amount of $3,448,848, and to pay a fine in the amount of $30,000.

Von der Goltz was charged along with Ramses Owens, Dirk Brauer, and Richard Gaffey, aka Dick Gaffey, in connection with a decades-long criminal scheme perpetrated by Mossack Fonseca & Co. (Mossack Fonseca), a Panamanian-based global law firm, and its related entities.  Von der Goltz previously pleaded guilty to the charges, and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.

“Harald Joachim von der Goltz sought to conceal his considerable wealth through a sham foreign foundation and various shell companies.  But his decades-long scheme to evade his tax obligations and defraud the U.S. government came to an end today thanks to the tireless efforts of U.S. law enforcement,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “No matter how complicated the scheme, the U.S. government will bring to justice those who attempt to evade their tax obligations under the law.   In particular, I would like to recognize the outstanding work of the Internal Revenue Service in this case.”

“Harald Joachim von der Goltz, a one-time U.S. resident, previously admitted to an elaborate scheme to evade millions in taxes owed to the IRS,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York.  “Von der Goltz was abetted by the specialized criminal services of the law firm Mossack Fonseca to conceal income and assets in shell companies and off-shore bank accounts.  Now von der Goltz has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for his conduct.”

According to the allegations contained in the indictments, other filings in this case, and statements during court proceedings, including von der Goltz’s guilty plea and sentencing hearings:

Since at least 2000 through 2017, von der Goltz conspired with others to conceal his assets and investments, and the income generated by those assets and investments, from the IRS through fraudulent, deceitful, and dishonest means.  During all relevant times, von der Goltz was a U.S. resident and was subject to U.S. tax laws, which required him to report and pay income tax on worldwide income, including income and capital gains generated in domestic and foreign bank accounts.  Nevertheless, von der Goltz evaded his tax reporting obligations by setting up a series of shell companies and bank accounts, and hiding his beneficial ownership of the shell companies and bank accounts from the IRS.  These shell companies and bank accounts made investments totaling tens of millions of dollars. 

Von der Goltz was assisted in this scheme through the use of Mossack Fonseca, including Owens, a Panamanian lawyer who previously worked at Mossack Fonseca, and by Gaffey, a partner at a U.S.-based accounting firm.  Specifically, in furtherance of von der Goltz’s efforts to conceal his assets and income from the IRS, von der Goltz engaged the services of Mossack Fonseca, including Owens, to create a sham foundation and shell companies formed under the laws of Panama and the British Virgin Islands to conceal from the IRS and others the ownership by von der Goltz of accounts established at overseas banks, as well as the income generated in those accounts.  Von der Goltz, Gaffey, and Owens also falsely claimed that von der Goltz’s elderly mother was the sole beneficial owner of the shell companies and bank accounts at issue because, at all relevant times, she was a Guatemalan citizen and resident, and – unlike von der Goltz – was not a U.S. taxpayer. 

Gaffey previously pled guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Berman on Sept. 24, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. EDT.  Owens and Brauer remain at large. 

The Justice Department praised the outstanding investigative work of IRS-Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and thanked the Justice Department’s Tax Division and the FBI for their significant assistance in the investigation.  The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and law enforcement partners in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany provided significant assistance.                                             

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Michael Parker of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Justice Department and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eun Young Choi and Thane Rehn of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit, with substantial support from previous co-counsel, Trial Attorney Parker Tobin of the Tax Division. 

The charges as to Owens and Brauer are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.