Bedrosian v. United States Department of the Treasury, No. 21-1583 (3d Cir. 2022)

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Bank Secrecy Act, 31 U.S.C. 5311, and its implementing regulations require certain individuals with foreign financial interests to file annual disclosures, subject to penalties. In 2008, Bedrosian filed an inaccurate Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), omitting from the report the larger of his two Swiss bank accounts. If this omission was accidental, the IRS could fine Bedrosian up to $10,000; if he willfully filed an inaccurate FBAR, the penalty was the greater of $100,000 or half the balance of the undisclosed account at the time of the violation. Believing Bedrosian’s omission was willful, the IRS imposed a $975,789.17 penalty—by its calculation, half the balance of Bedrosian’s undisclosed account. Following Bedrosian’s refusal to pay the full penalty, the IRS filed a claim in federal court.

The Third Circuit affirmed the district court in finding Bedrosian’s omission willful and ordering him to pay the IRS penalty in full. While the IRS failed to provide sufficient evidence at trial showing its $975,789.17 penalty was no greater than half his account balance, Bedrosian admitted this fact during opening statements and thus relieved the government of its burden of proof.

Primary Holding
Third Circuit affirms a finding of willful violation of the Bank Secrecy Act with respect to reporting foreign accounts and the imposition of a $975,789.17 penalty.

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