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Indian American indicted for conspiracy to defraud

Federal prosecutors have charged Indian-American neurosurgeon Arvind Ahuja, a client of HSBC, with evading US taxes through the global bank's India operations and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

world Updated: Sep 29, 2011 11:24 IST

Federal prosecutors have charged Indian-American neurosurgeon Arvind Ahuja, a client of HSBC, with evading US taxes through the global bank's India operations and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Ahuja from Wiscosin was previously indicted in June 2011 on four counts of willfully filing materially false tax returns and four counts of failing to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs).

The superseding indictment was returned on Wednesday in Milwaukee. A trial date has not yet been set.

The indictment is part of a broadening US investigation into Swiss and Swiss-style banks that enable American clients to hide income offshore and evade US taxes.

According to the superseding indictment, Dr Ahuja, a board-certified neurosurgeon, wire transferred and maintained millions of dollars in bank accounts in India and the Bailiwick of Jersey at The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd. (HSBC).

In 2009, the HSBC bank account in India had a balance of $8,733,785.

The superseding indictment alleges that Dr Ahuja failed to report these bank accounts to the IRS on his 2006-2009 tax returns.

The indictment alleges that he failed to report more than $1.2 million in interest income that he earned from his HSBC India account and failed to pay the taxes due on that income.

For the 2006-2009 tax years, Dr Ahuja also failed to file FBARs to report his foreign bank accounts to the Department of the Treasury.

The superseding indictment also alleges that Dr Ahuja conspired with HSBC bankers who worked at an HSBC India office in New York to conceal from the IRS the existence, ownership and income derived from his undeclared bank accounts at HSBC India and HSBC Jersey.

Meanwhile, Ahuja denied all charges against him and said he is innocent and expressed confidence that he will be acquitted of all the charges.

Dan Webb, Ahuja's attorney, said in a statement that the government's allegations are "far off-base, and we will continue to present a vigorous, fact-based defence."

"Dr Ahuja is innocent of these allegations, and we remain confident that a jury will acquit him of all charges."

The additional charge brought yesterday does not allege that even a single dollar of additional tax is owed, Webb said.

Noting that Dr Ahuja had interest-bearing accounts at a large, multi-national bank, the lawyer said bank's failure to issue him any documents that stated his interest income from these accounts directly caused the government’s prosecution.

"Dr Ahuja has paid all US income taxes on all monies deposited into these foreign bank accounts as well as his personal income in the US. The only issue is taxes owed on the interest earned in these foreign bank accounts," he claimed.

Arguing that Dr Ahuja has always worked scrupulously, with a team of professional financial advisers and accountants, to pay all taxes and interest he owes and follow all applicable state and federal tax laws and regulations, Webb said the neurosurgeon is a man of strong principles and character who respects and obeys the law.