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Even villains of the highest order can get caught by the tax man. Undoubtedly, accountancy is one of the most important lines of work, helping businesses reduce costs and grow profit. They have often also aided law enforcement and prevented criminal activity, so here we look back at the criminals put behind bars at the hands of accountants.
We have all heard of the notorious gangster Al Capone. He had managed to avoid prosecution for many years. But in 1931, his reign of power came to an end when he was found guilty for tax evasion. As Al Capone did not file tax returns and had no bank accounts, his income couldn’t be accounted for. The IRS arranged to have his organisation investigated and were able to track his income though his dealings in bootlegging, illegal gambling and other activities.
IRS chief Frank J. Wilson was at the centre of the investigation and moved to Chicago to gather information. Al Capone was eventually sentenced to eleven years in prison. The IRS continue to be a powerful accountancy agency for the U.S. government.
Terry Adams’s A-Team were one of the most powerful and feared criminal organisations in London’s underworld, until 2003 when Adams was prosecuted for money laundering and tax evasion. Over a period of several years in the 1990s, the Inland revenue along with MI5 monitored Adams’s movements closely, gathering information about his affairs. The Inland Revenue started asking him how he had acquired his wealth and he invented a range of businesses just so he could account for his money. In the end, Adam had to pay £95,000 in tax and he pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering.
Ross W. Ulbricht
Sometimes it doesn’t take a high-tech wizard to catch an online criminal. Gary L. Alford was the IRS agent who first uncovered the identity of Silk Road owner, Ross W. Ulbricht, who is now serving a life sentence. Ulbricht had built a vending website that served as a platform for selling illegal goods. During the investigation, the FBI and all other government agencies involved in the case only knew his moniker: “Dread Pirate Roberts”. Alford managed to uncover the man behind the site. He looked through old blog posts and chat rooms, eventually leading to a post revealing Ulbricht’s email address. From here, Alford managed to find out Ulbricht’s location and eventually gathered more information that allowed the FBI to arrest him.
The reign of Micky Cohen came to an end much like Al Capone. Although Cohen spent a brief time in prison for a crime involving other gangsters, it was his tax evasion that spelled the end of a life of crime. He had already been sentenced to four years in prison in 1951 for tax evasion and then again ten years later, but this time he was sent to Alcatraz. When he was released in 1972, his criminal days were behind him as he became seriously ill not so long after.
As you can see from these four criminals, cheating the system comes with tough consequences. There is a clear line between saving money and breaking the law. So, many accountants for financial services have played an important role in ensuring tax evaders and fraudsters get the jail time they deserve.
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