A Lake Worth, Florida, businessman pleaded guilty today to tax evasion and willful failure to file a Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Account, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Dusko Bruer owned and operated a company that bought U.S.-made agricultural machinery and parts and sold them throughout the world. Beginning in 2003, the company did not pay Bruer a salary. Instead, Bruer used millions of dollars from the company’s bank accounts to pay his personal expenses, make investments abroad, and make transfers to an employee and his family. From 2007 through 2011, Bruer transferred over $5.8 million of the company’s profits to foreign financial accounts. Bruer used the company’s profits to buy a yacht, purchase a waterfront home for his girlfriend and himself, purchase a home for an employee, and buy real property in Serbia. Between 2007 and 2014, Bruer failed to report more than $7.7 million in income and did not pay taxes of more than $2.7 million that were due to the United States.
Although Bruer’s company had a number of employees and reaped millions of dollars in profits, Bruer never filed a corporate tax return for the company nor did the company ever pay taxes on its income. Bruer also never filed employment tax returns during those years reporting wages that the company paid to its employees nor did the company withhold and pay over payroll taxes.
From 2007 through 2015, Bruer maintained financial accounts in Croatia, Germany, Serbia, and Switzerland. He did not report his ownership of the accounts to the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) by filing a Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Account (FBAR), despite knowing he had an obligation to do so. In 2010, an account he held at a subsidiary of Credit Suisse AG in Zurich, Switzerland reached a year-end high value of $6,177,586. Bruer used the assets in his foreign accounts for personal use, including the purchase of a yacht for $1,350,000 and a 3,200 square foot home in Lake Worth, Florida, with 100 feet of waterfront frontage for approximately $1,650,000.
From 1999 to 2014, Bruer never filed a personal tax return nor did he pay tax on his income. In 2015, Credit Suisse closed his account in Switzerland and advised him to enter the IRS’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), by which taxpayers could avoid criminal prosecution by making a voluntary disclosure directly to IRS-Criminal Investigation, filing six years of delinquent or amended income tax returns, as well as delinquent or amended FBARs, paying back taxes, interest, and certain penalties on the six tax years in the disclosure period, and paying a penalty on the highest aggregate account balance of their noncompliant offshore assets. Bruer did not enter into the OVDP because he determined that the cost would be too high. Instead, Bruer made a “quiet” disclosure that involved filing several delinquent tax returns with the IRS, not flagging the returns in anyway or paying the taxes, penalties and interest that would be paid in OVDP.
The returns Bruer filed as part of his “quiet” disclosure were false because they disclosed only the funds he held in the Credit Suisse account and not the funds he held in the accounts in Croatia, Germany, Serbia, nor did they report the income he earned from his company.
United States District Court Judge Senior District Judge Kenneth A. Marra scheduled sentencing for June 12, 2020. Bruer faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each charge, three years of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Senior Litigation Counsel Mark F. Daly of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aurora Fagan, who are prosecuting the case. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan also thanked the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Croatia for their assistance in this matter.
Additional information about the Tax Division’s enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.