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Former Soviet soccer player from N.J. gets house arrest for hiding $2.6M from IRS

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : A former UBS client in New Jersey who once played for the Soviet Union soccer team will spend a year under home confinement as part of four years of probation for concealing $2.6 million in a Swiss bank account — all to save $60,000 in taxes.

Leonid Zaltsberg, who played in the World Cup, already has been fined $1.3 million for not reporting the funds — which he transferred from a Panamanian account — in his 2003 tax return.

“When you became a citizen, you came here as a guest. You were treated well,” U.S. District Court Judge Stanley R. Chesler told Zaltsberg this morning in Newark. “Yet you made a conscious and calculated decision to hide money offshore. By doing so, you were not honoring the commitment you made when you became a U.S. citizen.”

Zaltsberg, a Milltown resident who remains free on $750,000 bond, was one of 17 people initially investigated by UBS before the company produced a list of 4,500 more. He reportedly has bladder and prostate cancer.

“He is sincerely remorseful, and knows that he made a terrible mistake,” said Zaltsberg’s lawyer, James DiPietro, who succeeded in avoiding what could have been 18 months in federal prison for his client through a July plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney‘s Office.

Several individual former UBS clients in the United States have gone to prison after accepting similar pleas.

Last year, UBS agreed to pay a $780 million fine for helping U.S. clients evade taxes. It also gave investigators files on more than 250 clients allegedly involved in its cross-border business and agreed to produce the names of 4,450 more.

Zaltsberg’s account, originally opened in 1993, was transferred into the name of Belton Capital Corp., a nominee Panamanian corporation, in 2000. Zaltsberg established Belton in late 2000 with the assistance of a foreign lawyer and a Swiss banker, in order to hide this account from the IRS, federal authorities said.

By 2002, his balance had reached $2.6 million, they said.

Others who’ve taken similar please include Juergen Homann of Saddle River, who pleaded guilty 15 months ago to failing to report concealed income;  Harry Abrahamsen, of Oradell, who admitted in April that he hid more than $1 million in Swiss bank accounts; and Lucille Jackson, Abrahamsen’s daughter, who pleaded guilty last month to filing a false tax return.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman credited special agents of the IRS for investigating the case, which has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey A. Levine of his office’s Criminal Division and Trial Attorney Michael C. Vasiliadis of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division.

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