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Financial Fraud Law

Mizrahi Bank Client Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Return

 The latest in the series of defendants charged with concealing accounts at Israeli banks is Monajem Hakimijoo, also known as Manny Hakimi, of Beverly Hills, California. In fact, he now has pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to filing a false federal income tax return for tax year 2007.

Prosecutors alleged that Hakimijoo, a U.S. citizen, and his brother maintained an undeclared bank account in Israel at Mizrahi Bank in the name of Kalamar Enterprises, a Turks and Caicos Islands entity they used to conceal their ownership of the account.  Prosecutors asserted that Hakimijoo and his brother used the funds in the Kalamar account as collateral for back-to-back loans obtained from the Los Angeles branch of Mizrahi Bank.  Although Hakimijoo and his brother claimed the interest paid on the back-to-back loans as a business deduction for federal tax purposes, they failed to report the interest income earned in their undeclared, Israel-based account as income on their tax returns, according to the government.  In total, Hakimijoo failed to report approximately $282,000 in interest income, the government alleged, adding that the highest balance in the Kalamar Enterprises account was approximately $4,030,000.

According to court documents, in March 2013, Hakimijoo was scheduled to be interviewed by Justice Department attorneys and IRS special agents.  The government said that prior to the interview, Hakimijoo, through counsel, provided the attorneys and special agents with copies of his amended tax returns for 2004 and 2005.  When asked if the amended tax returns had been filed with the IRS, Hakimijoo indicated that the returns had been filed, according to prosecutors.  The government asserted, however, that shortly thereafter, the IRS determined there was no record of the amended returns being filed with the IRS.  When Hakimijoo was asked to provide copies of cancelled checks to prove that the taxes reflected on the amended returns had been paid, none were provided, the government said.

Hakimijoo will be sentenced on April 28, 2014, and faces a statutory maximum prison term of three years and a maximum fine of $250,000.  In addition, Hakimijoo has agreed to pay a civil penalty to the IRS in the amount of 50 percent of the highest balance of his one-half interest in the Kalamar account.

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