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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.

--Jerry Markon

By Washington Post editors  |  February 16, 2010; 4:41 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Jerry Markon , Loudoun  
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Why not just keep the money in an off-shore account and get a debit card from that bank? Do rich peoples' banks not operate like common peoples' banks?

Posted by: SUMB44 | February 16, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Are these governmental agencies serious? This couldn't have been an economically sound use of time. It probably cost much more than 200K to track and prosecute this guy's international inheritance care packages!

The people who deliberately pawned off bad investments in highly disguised (as to the level of risk) funds nearly all still have jobs and many of them still get their multimillion dollar BONUSES!

Those same people were caught red-handed firing anybody who said the Mortgage securities funds were risky / poorly structured/ or a scam, pawned off the worst investments on the people who couldn't protect their own solvency, drove 8 major international financial firms into bankruptcy, and the court (the article implies) wants to throw the book at a Doctor who was scamming the Gov't out of a comparatively miniscule inheritance?

I don't have any sympathy for the doctor, btw, it's just that this is kind of like prosecuting the guy who Graffitied the wall of a warehouse that's used to distribute cocaine instead of busting the guys running the warehouse.

Posted by: Kdarienzo | February 16, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Why not just move there and live life happily ever after. the U.S. is sinking...

Posted by: FrankMonzon | February 16, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

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