Unfortunately, history is full of financial misdeeds. Whether it’s invoice fraud or cybercrime, the perpetrator is always looking for the same thing: personal gain. As evidence shows, it’s almost impossible not to get caught out. Even the most hardened criminals have run out of luck and faced the consequences. Accountants and financial services professionals have played a key role in putting a stop to fraud. Here we take a look at a few criminals who paid the price for their crimes.
Through a series of fake names and bank accounts, Chinese businessman William Yan, generated a wealth of $129 million. He concealed his fortune in New Zealand through money laundering. In 2001 he arrived in New Zealand, he was then granted permanent residency a year later. He used the names ‘Bill Liu’ and ‘Yang Liu’ to get a New Zealand passport, before changing his name to William Yang.
He was fifth on China’s most-wanted list for fraud and in 2014, New Zealand authorities took a closer look at the dormant allegation against Yan. They raided his penthouse and eventually froze a large portion of his assets as part of an ongoing inquiry. To settle the case, Yan is expected to pay back $42.8 million, which would be shared between New Zealand and China. Even though William Yan was never convicted, authorities still managed to seize his assets under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act, without admission of “criminal or civil liability”. There wasn’t enough evidence to convict Yan, but it’s safe to assume that authorities will be keeping a close eye on him from now on.
During the 1940s and 50s, Micky Cohen was the mob king of Los Angeles, feared all across Hollywood’s underworld. Like most notorious gangsters, his reign of power came to an abrupt end. In 1861, he was convicted of tax evasion and sent to Alcatraz. He already spent time in prison for tax fraud ten years earlier, but on his second spell he spent eleven years in prison. When he was released in 1972, he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, so his criminal days were long behind him.
During their height in the late nineties, Terry Adams and his family, known as the A-Team, had an estimated fortune of £200 million. They were one of the most powerful criminal organisations in London, having been linked to all kinds of crimes, including various murders and drug smuggling. During the nineties, the Inland Revenue and MI5 closely monitored Adams, tracking his affairs and gathering information about his business transactions. Eventually, the authorities started questioning how he had accumulated his wealth, and Adams invented numerous fake businesses, just so he could account for his fortune. In 2003, Adams was prosecuted for tax evasion and money laundering. He pleaded guilty to the charges and had to pay back £95,000.
Arguably the most infamous gangster of all time, Al Capone escaped prosecution for several years. At the age of 33, the crime boss was finally caught, prosecuted for tax evasion in 1931. The authorities had a tough time catching him as Al Capone had no bank accounts and never filed tax returns, so his wealth couldn’t be accounted for. However, the IRS were able to track his income through his illegal gambling, bootlegging and other criminal activities.
Frank J. Wilson was the former chief of the IRS and he heavily contributed to the prosecution of Al Capone. Wilson moved to Chicago to gather information and over a period time, he built a formidable case against Al Capone. Wilson even avoided an assassination attempt in order to bring down Capone. In the end, Capone was sentenced to eleven years in prison.
As you can see, these criminals made for compelling cases, but their corruption came to a swift end. It seems that even the most powerful criminals are destined to fall, and without the efforts of financial services professionals and accountants, these criminals’ reign of terror may have gone on for a lot longer.
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