Loudoun doc mailed himself $235,000 and now faces prison
Like many people, Andrew Silva inherited money from his mother when she died. One problem: the cash was in an undeclared Swiss bank account.
So Silva, a surgeon, devised an unusual solution, prosecutors said. He mailed 26 packages containing more than $200,000 from Switzerland to his Sterling home — to skirt U.S. financial reporting requirements.
Now, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Silva, 49, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to conspiracy to impede the United States and to making a false statement to U.S. customs inspectors. Their question: have you recently mailed any U.S. currency from Switzerland to the United States?
And the final indignity: as part of his plea agreement, Silva had to fork over $211,000 his mother left him — to the feds.
Court documents said Silva inherited the bank account from his mother in 1997 at the Zurich branch of one of the world’s largest international banks. The account was held in the name of a sham Liechtenstein trust. A Zurich attorney told Silva to keep the account quiet, not keep records and to send coded letters if he wanted to meet with the attorney, prosecutors said.
In September, court documents said, Silva learned the bank was closing his Swiss account and he had to travel to Switzerland to withdraw the funds. His attorney and a Swiss banker refused to wire the money to him because it would leave a trail for U.S. law enforcement, prosecutors said, so they gave him $235,000 in U.S. currency.
Silva then mailed the money to his home, and falsely told customs inspectors at Dulles International Airport that his trip to Switzerland was to purchase diamonds and that he hadn’t mailed any money home.
Justice Department officials said the case, investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies, is part of their efforts to prosecute people who use offshore accounts to hide income and assets. Increased coordination among federal
investigators “is making it possible for us to discover Americans who conceal their wealth overseas and make them pay for their actions,’’ said Neil H. MacBride, the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria.
Washington Post editors
February 16, 2010; 4:41 PM ET
Categories: From the Courthouse , Jerry Markon , Loudoun
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