MANHATTAN (CN) – A British attorney helped a New Jersey family hide $10 million in Swiss banks over a decade, and tried to throw law enforcement off the scent by using code words like “beef” for money, federal prosecutors say.
Officers arrested Michael Little at Kennedy Airport on Thursday night for allegedly advising an American family to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by hiding at least $10 million in overseas Swiss bank accounts.
On the attorney’s advice, the family hid the scheme using a code in which the Internal Revenue Service was the “F.D.A.,” money was “beef,” and defendant Little was “Small,” according to the federal complaint unsealed on Friday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas presided over Little’s presentiment on Friday afternoon.
The 8-page complaint focuses on Little’s work for the “S Family,” later identified as the Seggermans in a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In August 2001, after the patriarch died, Little met with the family’s beneficiaries and family at the Four Seasons hotel in Manhattan, according to the complaint.
At this meeting, Little allegedly told them that the patriarch had left them $10 million in undeclared assets in Swiss and other bank accounts. Half was intended to go to the matriarch of the clan, and the children would inherit about $1.6 million each, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors say Little suggested that the family transfer the money in “little chunks,” through traveler’s checks and other means.
The government’s smoking gun in the case is a set of notes that one of the family members took at meeting, written on hotel stationary.
The other alleged participants in the scheme, not named in the complaint, include a Swiss lawyer code-named “Moxly” and a New Jersey account, “BG.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara blasted Little for allegedly betraying his profession.
“In addition to breaking the law by advising his American clients on how to break it themselves, Michael Little violated the most basic moral and ethical tenets of the legal profession,” Bharara said in a statement.