WESTON, Conn. -- A Weston man who used a Panamanian bank account to conceal more than $1.5 million in income from the sale of duty-free alcohol and tobacco products pleaded guilty to conspiring to conceal assets and income from the Internal Revenue Service.
Saul Hyatt, 53, pleaded guilty in federal court in Trenton, N.J., to charges of conspiracy to conceal assets in an undeclared bank account held in Panama for his benefit. “The Panamanian banking system is not a haven to hide profits made from U.S. businesses,” U.S. Attorney for N,ew Jersey Paul J. Fishman said.
Hyatt conspired with another individual in the United States and others to conceal his assets and income derived from the sale of duty-free alcohol and tobacco products, officials said. He used a registered Panamanian corporation, Centennial Group, to buy and sell the duty-free products, officials said. The alcohol shipped through a customs-bonded warehouse in the Foreign Trade Zone in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and passed through a customs-bonded warehouse in North Bergen, N.J.
“The Department continues to vigorously pursue and prosecute those who conceal their assets and income in offshore accounts in an effort to evade paying their fair share of taxes,” Principal Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo said. “Nearly eight years after the IRS announced its first offshore voluntary disclosure program, individuals who fail to disclose their interests in foreign accounts and report income earned on these accounts should be well aware that there are significant consequences for this criminal conduct.”
From 2006 to 2012, Hyatt directed that $1,627,832 in profits from the sale of duty-free alcohol and tobacco products be wired to his undeclared bank account in Panama, officials said.
“Concealing income and assets offshore is not tax planning,” Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office said.
The count to which Hyatt pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice his gain from the offense. He is obligated to pay $854,466 in penalties for failing to disclose the account and has agreed to file true and accurate tax returns. He must also pay restitution to the IRS of $521,986. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2017.