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HSBC Client Admits to Using Offshore Account to Evade Taxes

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- A New Jersey client of HSBC Holdings Plc pleaded guilty to evading taxes on $1.2 million in income and using an account in India to hide some of his money.

Sameer Gupta, 33, who co-owns a wholesale adult paraphernalia business in New York, entered his plea yesterday in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

Gupta, of Edison, New Jersey, admitted that from 2006 to 2009, he diverted receipts from the business, J.S. Marketers, and used a false invoicing scheme to cheat the Internal Revenue Service, court records show. Gupta admitted that he diverted receipts into 17 bank accounts, including six at HSBC India.

Gupta faces as many as five years in prison. He agreed to pay back taxes and penalties, as well as a $259,045 penalty for failing to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBARs.

His attorney, Kevin Marino, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

HSBC’s Geneva-based private bank is one of at least 11 Swiss firms under investigation by U.S. prosecutors investigating offshore tax evasion. HSBC’s Swiss unit gave lists of employees to aid the U.S. probe, a spokesman said in April. Since 2009, at least 84 people have been charged with tax crimes by the U.S., including two dozen offshore bankers, lawyers and advisers. Several HSBC clients were charged. More than 38,000 Americans avoided prosecution by entering an IRS amnesty program in which they paid back taxes and penalties while disclosing the banks and bankers who helped them hide offshore accounts.

In December, London-based HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, agreed to pay $1.92 billion to settle U.S. probes of money laundering in the biggest such accord ever.

The case is U.S. v. Gupta, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

To contact the reporter on this story: David Voreacos in Newark, New Jersey, at dvoreacos@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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