Houston Attorney Convicted of Offshore Tax Evasion Scheme

Houston Attorney Convicted of Offshore Tax Evasion Scheme

A Houston, Texas, attorney was convicted today of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and three counts of tax evasion, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick for the Southern District of Texas.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Jack Stephen Pursley, also known as Steve Pursley, conspired with a former client to repatriate more than $18 million in untaxed income that the client had earned through his company, Southeastern Shipping. Knowing that his client had never paid taxes on these funds, Pursley designed and implemented a scheme whereby the untaxed funds were transferred from Southeastern Shipping’s business bank account, located in the Isle of Man, to the United States. Pursley helped to conceal the movement of funds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by disguising the transfers as stock purchases in United States corporations owned and controlled by Pursley and his client.

At trial, the government proved that Pursley received more than $4.8 million and a 25% ownership interest in the co-conspirator’s ongoing business for his role in the fraudulent scheme. For tax years 2009 and 2010, Pursley evaded the assessment of and failed to pay the income taxes he owed on these payments by, among other means, withdrawing the funds as purported non-taxable loans and returns of capital. The government showed at trial that Pursley used the money he garnered from the fraudulent scheme for personal investments, and to purchase assets for himself, including a vacation home in Vail, Colorado and property in Houston, Texas.

Judge Lynn Hughes has set sentencing for Dec. 9. Pursley faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count, and five years in prison for each count of tax evasion. He also faces a period of supervised release, monetary penalties, and restitution.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Patrick commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Sean Beaty, Grace Albinson, and Jack Morgan of the Tax Division, who prosecuted this case.

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