IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI) Spotlights: September’s Noteworthy Tax Cases
The IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) division usually highlights one criminal case adjudicated in the preceding month as its Tax Case of the Month. However, September proved to be an exceptional month for criminal tax sentencings. The CI leadership found it impossible to choose just one case. Instead, they selected two Tax Cases of the Month, investigated by the CI’s Tampa and Los Angeles Field Offices.
Mark Anthony Gyetvay: A High-Profile Tax Evasion Case
Mark Anthony Gyetvay, a New Jersey native and the CFO of Novatek, a Russian natural gas company based in Moscow, was sentenced to seven years for failing to file taxes. Gyetvay had made a name for himself in Russia as a licensed certified public accountant (CPA) at a U.S.-based accounting firm before rising to the CFO position at Novatek.
During his tenure as CFO, Gyetvay hid his control over offshore assets worth over $93 million and neglected to pay taxes on millions of dollars of income. He also submitted a false offshore compliance filing with the IRS to evade penalties and prosecution.
Gyetvay opened two different accounts at a Swiss bank in 2005 to hold large sums of money. At one point, these accounts held a combined value of over $93 million. Over several years, Gyetvay took steps to hide his control over these funds, including removing his name from the accounts and making his then-wife, a Russian citizen, the beneficial owner of the accounts. Despite being a CPA, Gyetvay failed to file personal tax returns for 2013 and 2014.
Gyetvay also failed to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs), as required, to disclose his control over the Swiss bank accounts. He even rejected his accountant’s recommendation to do so. In a failed attempt to avoid substantial financial penalties, Gyetvay made a false filing with the IRS using streamlined foreign offshore procedures. This process is only available to taxpayers whose failure to report offshore assets and income is due to non-willful conduct.
On September 21, Gyetvay was sentenced to 86 months in prison, ordered to serve three years of supervised release, and pay a $350,000 fine and approximately $4 million in restitution to the U.S. A federal jury convicted Gyetvay in March of failing to file a FBAR, making a false statement to the IRS, and willfully failing to file tax returns. The Tampa Field Office investigated this case.
Ayodele Arasokun: A Case of Tax Fraud and Identity Theft
On September 18, 2023, Ayodele Arasokun was sentenced to 34 years in federal prison for orchestrating an international tax scheme. From January 2016 to November 2017, Arasokun devised a scheme to unlawfully obtain tax refunds by filing fraudulent federal income tax returns. Arasokun collected the names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of multiple individuals across the U.S. Using this information, he compromised the IRS Electronic Filing Pin application, an online electronic portal used for e-filing.
The fraudulent returns contained fictitious income amounts, withholdings, and other false information. Arasokun then directed tax refunds to be deposited into prepaid debit cards and bank accounts that he monitored.
Arasokun pursued approximately 700 U.S.-based accounts containing over $50 million. Of the $9.1 million claimed by Arasokun in false federal income tax returns, the IRS paid out $2.2 million in fraudulently obtained refunds.
A jury convicted Arasokun in October 2022 of 21 counts of wire fraud and aggravated identify theft for coordinating a scheme to file 1,701 false returns and claim $9.1 million in refunds, with West Virginia residents among his victims. The Los Angeles Field Office investigated this case.