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U.S. v. J. Bryan Williams

 
:
Williams, J. Bryan
:
DOJ Criminal
:
April 2, 2003
:
U.S. v. J. Bryan Williams
:
U.S. v. Williams, No. 03-cr-406 (S.D.N.Y. 2003)
:
Energy (Non-Utility)-Oil & Gas-Exploration/Production
:
Kazakhstan
:
1995; 1996; 1997
:
President and former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan
:
J. Bryan Williams was an executive at Mobil Oil (now Exxon-Mobil) and an associate of James Giffen, an influential adviser to the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In 1996, Mobil Oil was in negotiations with the Kazakh government to acquire a 25% interest in the Tengiz oil field for $1.05 billion. The transaction was structured so that Mobil Oil paid a 5% fee to a merchant bank controlled by Giffen. In turn, J. Bryan Williams, a personal friend of Giffen who negotiated the deal on behalf of Mobil, received a $2 million kickback from Giffen as part of this transaction. The money was transferred through the Swiss bank account of a British Virgin Islands shell corporation controlled by Williams. Williams was indicted on April 3, 2003 for filing false tax returns by omitting $2 million in income related to the Tengiz transaction. On September 18, 2003, Williams pled guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion and was sentenced to 46 months in prison. Williams was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and is required to pay taxes on the $2 million kickback he received.

Williams pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to one count of criminal tax evasion in connection with funds held in the Swiss bank accounts during the years 1993 through 2000.

In April 2009, the U.S. government, at the request of the Chief Counsel of the IRS, instituted an action seeking to enforce its assessment of two “Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts” (“FBAR”) penalties against Williams for willfully failing to disclose his assets in Swiss bank accounts for the tax year 2000. Despite Williams’s previous guilty plea, the court in U.S. v. Williams, 2010 WL 3473311 (E.D.Va., Sept. 1, 2010) denied the government's request to enforce civil FBAR penalties against Williams. The court entered judgment in favor of Williams on the grounds that the government failed to show that Williams “willfully” failed to file under Foreign Bank Account Regulations because Williams was aware that U.S. authorities already knew about these accounts. This decision may mean that pleading guilty to tax evasion might not automatically amount to a "willful" violation of civil FBAR statutes, particularly if the government knew about the accounts when the alleged violation occurred.

:
Tax
:
Disgorgement, Fine, Imprisonment, Plea
:
Restitution of $3,512,000, plus a $25,000 fine, plus back taxes owed to the IRS.
:
3,512,000
:
46
:
U.S.
:
Contract Procurement/Retention
:
1,050,000,000
:
Wire/check
:
7,000,000
:
Switzerland
:
Switzerland
:
No
:
No