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Banking's Dirty Secret: The Offshore Gusher

Stocks in this article: JPM BAC

The collection includes H. Ty Warner, billionaire inventor of Beanie Baby collectibles. He pleaded guilty last month to evading taxes through a welter of accounts at Wegelin, HSBC, Credit Suisse and other banks.

"When I signed those [tax] returns," he said in a weepy press conference following his court appearance, "I knew those monies were missing. [The financial documents] were not accurate."

And then there is Russian billionaire Igor Olenicoff, judged one of the 400 richest people in America by Forbes magazine. He was ensnared in a tax sting of UBS  (UBS) bank, and pleaded guilty to a single felony count of filing a false tax return. He later aided authorities. He received two years probation in a plea bargain and paid $52 million in back taxes.

Leonid Zaltsberg, a former UBS client, earned fame and fortune kicking goals for the Ukrainian soccer team, which amassed a record six championships in Russia. Now living in New Jersey, he pleaded guilty to failing to tell tax authorities about $2.6 million in offshore accounts. He was sentenced to four years probation and required to pay $1.3 million.

Elsewhere prominent doctors and lawyers, yacht makers and software developers were netted. Perhaps the most bizarre catch was the Chicago seller of cemetery monuments and gravestones. The profits derived from the families of the bereaved -- millions of dollars -- were quietly laid to rest in the vaults of Switzerland. He paid a penalty of $3.25 million.

-- Written by William Inman

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