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Accounting Fraud

Knowingly falsifying accounting records in order to boost net income, sales figures, or to hide income is a crime. Ironically, companies often commit accounting fraud to ensure that they meet the Security and Exchange Commission's and shareholders' earnings expectations. Accountants, auditors, bookkeepers, company executives, employees, and contractors who work on governmental contracts are among those most commonly charges with accounting fraud.

Common methods of committing accounting fraud include:

Revenue Recognition: Recognizing revenue before it is time or when it never existed
Incomplete transactions: Omission of data with the intent to create false accounting statements
Round Tripping: Company A and Company B agree to buy each other's products or services to boost revenues
Barter Transactions: Non-monetary round trippers.
Channel Stuffing: Selling at the end of the quarter what is needed to meet the forecast
Keeping Books Open: Keeping books open after the end of the quarter hoping to make up the difference.
False statements to regulators: The making of material misrepresentations, omissions, or commissions of acts which lead to false representations to investigators.
Money Laundering: Accounting for illegal, illicit, or monies otherwise not made by a company during legitimate business dealings for the purpose of hiding the true origin of the money

Often those who develop into suspects of criminal accounting fraud investigations had no knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing and have to prove their innocence to investigators and sometimes to juries. Sentences can range up to 20 years for some of the most commons charges, and maximum fines can range up to $25,000,000.

Knowledge is a requirement for conviction for accounting fraud, but often the government will pursue charges on a "knew or should have known" standard. Knowledge of the theft by the parties is often the hardest element to prove and where the best defenses lie in these types of cases. Often, the government will seize monies in an attempt to limit the ability of defendants to have attorneys of their choosing.

Like almost all federal investigations, by the time a suspect knows he has been targeted investigators likely have been working the case for months or years. That is why it is important to contact a lawyer immediately once one learns they are a target!

Our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge and experience to file motions to unfreeze assets, and to prepare comprehensive and well thought out defenses to your charges. We examine the matter from all angles and bring on resources that aid in the complete defense of our individual and corporate clients. Our attorneys have prosecuted and defended accounting cases. We know how to build these cases and that aids us in knowing the weaknesses of these types of cases. If you, the business you work for or have a fiduciary relationship with are under investigation for federal Accounting Fraud, give the attorneys at Arnold Law Firm a call at .

Below are listed the most commonly charged federal accounting fraud laws.

§ 7201. Attempt to evade or defeat tax

Any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax imposed by this title or the payment thereof shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.

§ 7202. Willful failure to collect or pay over tax

Any person required under this title to collect, account for, and pay over any tax imposed by this title who willfully fails to collect or truthfully account for and pay over such tax shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.

§ 7203. Willful failure to file return, supply information, or pay tax

Any person required under this title to pay any estimated tax or tax, or required by this title or by regulations made under authority thereof to make a return, keep any records, or supply any information, who willfully fails to pay such estimated tax or tax, make such return, keep such records, or supply such information, at the time or times required by law or regulations, shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $25,000 ($100,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both, together with the costs of prosecution. In the case of any person with respect to whom there is a failure to pay any estimated tax, this section shall not apply to such person with respect to such failure if there is no addition to tax under section 6654 or 6655 with respect to such failure. In the case of a willful violation of any provision of section 6050I, the first sentence of this section shall be applied by substituting "felony" for "misdemeanor" and "5 years" for "1 year".

§ 7204. Fraudulent statement or failure to make statement to employees

In lieu of any other penalty provided by law (except the penalty provided by section 6674) any person required under the provisions of section 6051 to furnish a statement who willfully furnishes a false or fraudulent statement or who willfully fails to furnish a statement in the manner, at the time, and showing the information required under section 6051, or regulations prescribed thereunder, shall, for each such offense, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

§ 7206. Fraud and false statements

Any person who-

(1) Declaration under penalties of perjury

Willfully makes and subscribes any return, statement, or other document, which contains or is verified by a written declaration that it is made under the penalties of perjury, and which he does not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter; or

(2) Aid or assistance

Willfully aids or assists in, or procures, counsels, or advises the preparation or presentation under, or in connection with any matter arising under, the internal revenue laws, of a return, affidavit, claim, or other document, which is fraudulent or is false as to any material matter, whether or not such falsity or fraud is with the knowledge or consent of the person authorized or required to present such return, affidavit, claim, or document; or

(3) Fraudulent bonds, permits, and entries

Simulates or falsely or fraudulently executes or signs any bond, permit, entry, or other document required by the provisions of the internal revenue laws, or by any regulation made in pursuance thereof, or procures the same to be falsely or fraudulently executed, or advises, aids in, or connives at such execution thereof; or

(4) Removal or concealment with intent to defraud

Removes, deposits, or conceals, or is concerned in removing, depositing, or concealing, any goods or commodities for or in respect whereof any tax is or shall be imposed, or any property upon which levy is authorized by section 6331, with intent to evade or defeat the assessment or collection of any tax imposed by this title; or

(5) Compromises and closing agreements

In connection with any compromise under section 7122, or offer of such compromise, or in connection with any closing agreement under section 7121, or offer to enter into any such agreement, willfully-

(A) Concealment of property

Conceals from any officer or employee of the United States any property belonging to the estate of a taxpayer or other person liable in respect of the tax, or

(B) Withholding, falsifying, and destroying rec­ords

Receives, withholds, destroys, mutilates, or falsifies any book, document, or record, or makes any false statement, relating to the estate or financial condition of the taxpayer or other person liable in respect of the tax;

shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.

§ 7207. Fraudulent returns, statements, or other documents

Any person who willfully delivers or discloses to the Secretary any list, return, account, statement, or other document, known by him to be fraudulent or to be false as to any material matter, shall be fined not more than $10,000 ($50,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both. Any person required pursuant to section 6047 (b), section 6104(d), or subsection (i) or (j) of section 527 to furnish any information to the Secretary or any other person who willfully furnishes to the Secretary or such other person any information known by him to be fraudulent or to be false as to any material matter shall be fined not more than $10,000 ($50,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

§ 7211. False statements to purchasers or lessees relating to tax

Whoever in connection with the sale or lease, or offer for sale or lease, of any article, or for the purpose of making such sale or lease, makes any statement, written or oral-

(1) intended or calculated to lead any person to believe that any part of the price at which such article is sold or leased, or offered for sale or lease, consists of a tax imposed under the authority of the United States, or

(2) ascribing a particular part of such price to a tax imposed under the authority of the United States,

knowing that such statement is false or that the tax is not so great as the portion of such price ascribed to such tax, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both.

§ 7212. Attempts to interfere with administration of internal revenue laws

(a) Corrupt or forcible interference

Whoever corruptly or by force or threats of force (including any threatening letter or communication) endeavors to intimidate or impede any officer or employee of the United States acting in an official capacity under this title, or in any other way corruptly or by force or threats of force (including any threatening letter or communication) obstructs or impedes, or endeavors to obstruct or impede, the due administration of this title, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both, except that if the offense is committed only by threats of force, the person convicted thereof shall be fined not more than $3,000, or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both. The term "threats of force", as used in this subsection, means threats of bodily harm to the officer or employee of the United States or to a member of his family.

(b) Forcible rescue of seized property

Any person who forcibly rescues or causes to be rescued any property after it shall have been seized under this title, or shall attempt or endeavor so to do, shall, excepting in cases otherwise provided for, for every such offense, be fined not more than $500, or not more than double the value of the property so rescued, whichever is the greater, or be imprisoned not more than 2 years.

§ 7213. Unauthorized disclosure of information

(a) Returns and return information

(1) Federal employees and other persons

It shall be unlawful for any officer or employee of the United States or any person described in section 6103 (n) (or an officer or employee of any such person), or any former officer or employee, willfully to disclose to any person, except as authorized in this title, any return or return information (as defined in section 6103 (b)). Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable upon conviction by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution, and if such offense is committed by any officer or employee of the United States, he shall, in addition to any other punishment, be dismissed from office or discharged from employment upon conviction for such offense.

(2) State and other employees

It shall be unlawful for any person (not described in paragraph (1)) willfully to disclose to any person, except as authorized in this title, any return or return information (as defined in section 6103 (b)) acquired by him or another person under subsection (d), (i)(3)(B)(i) or (7)(A)(ii), (l)(6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (12), (15), (16), (19), or (20) or (m)(2), (4), (5), (6), or (7) of section 6103 or under section 6104 (c). Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.

(3) Other persons

It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103 (b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.

(4) Solicitation

It shall be unlawful for any person willfully to offer any item of material value in exchange for any return or return information (as defined in section 6103 (b)) and to receive as a result of such solicitation any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.

(5) Shareholders

It shall be unlawful for any person to whom a return or return information (as defined in section 6103 (b)) is disclosed pursuant to the provisions of section 6103 (e)(1)(D)(iii) willfully to disclose such return or return information in any manner not provided by law. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not to exceed $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.

(b) Disclosure of operations of manufacturer or producer

Any officer or employee of the United States who divulges or makes known in any manner whatever not provided by law to any person the operations, style of work, or apparatus of any manufacturer or producer visited by him in the discharge of his official duties shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both, together with the costs of prosecution; and the offender shall be dismissed from office or discharged from employment.

(c) Disclosures by certain delegates of Secretary

All provisions of law relating to the disclosure of information, and all provisions of law relating to penalties for unauthorized disclosure of information, which are applicable in respect of any function under this title when performed by an officer or employee of the Treasury Department are likewise applicable in respect of such function when performed by any person who is a "delegate" within the meaning of section 7701 (a)(12)(B).

(d) Disclosure of software

Any person who willfully divulges or makes known software (as defined in section 7612 (d)(1)) to any person in violation of section 7612 shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.

(e) Cross references

(1) Penalties for disclosure of information by preparers of returns

For penalty for disclosure or use of information by preparers of returns, see section 7216.

(2) Penalties for disclosure of confidential information

For penalties for disclosure of confidential information by any officer or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, see 18 U.S.C. 1905.

§ 7216. Disclosure or use of information by preparers of returns

(a) General rule

Any person who is engaged in the business of preparing, or providing services in connection with the preparation of, returns of the tax imposed by chapter 1, or any person who for compensation prepares any such return for any other person, and who knowingly or recklessly-

(1) discloses any information furnished to him for, or in connection with, the preparation of any such return, or

(2) uses any such information for any purpose other than to prepare, or assist in preparing, any such return,

shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.

(b) Exceptions

(1) Disclosure

Subsection (a) shall not apply to a disclosure of information if such disclosure is made-

(A) pursuant to any other provision of this title, or

(B) pursuant to an order of a court.

(2) Use

Subsection (a) shall not apply to the use of information in the preparation of, or in connection with the preparation of, State and local tax returns and declarations of estimated tax of the person to whom the information relates.

(3) Regulations

Subsection (a) shall not apply to a disclosure or use of information which is permitted by regulations prescribed by the Secretary under this section. Such regulations shall permit (subject to such conditions as such regulations shall provide) the disclosure or use of information for quality or peer reviews.

Statutes above are up to date from www.law.cornell.edu as of October 1, 2009.

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