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Wealth
Taxes

The Sting That Snagged the Tax Lawyer to a Pair of Billionaires

  • Carlos Kepke, who advised Robert Smith, has pleaded not guilty
  • IRS says enablers help Americans hide untaxed billions abroad
Belize

Belize

Photographer: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

Houston tax lawyer Carlos Kepke had been tutoring rich Americans like Robert F. Smith for decades on how to move assets offshore when an undercover agent posing as a bar owner turned up in 2018.

The goal was to gather evidence for a tax fraud case against Kepke. It wasn’t hard. As the wired agent recorded the conversation, Kepke bragged about placing assets in offshore trusts, notably in the Central American nation of Belize. Clients move money and claim to yield control, in keeping with federal law. But they decide how it’s used, not the foreign trustees.