November 4, 2020 - Douglas Myser

Billionaire investor evades taxes. Billionaire Robert F. Smith has been hailed as a brilliant investor who built Vista Equity Partners into a private equity powerhouse and a generous philanthropist lauded for paying off the student debt of Morehouse College's entire graduating class last year. But federal prosecutors undercut that image by saying Smith concealed income and evaded taxes for 15 years by using foreign trusts, corporations and bank accounts to cheat the Internal Revenue Service. Smith, 57, avoided prosecution only by cooperating in a case against Robert Brockman, a Houston businessman accused of suing a web of Caribbean entities to hide $2 billion in income in what prosecutors called the largest U.S. tax case ever against an individual. Billionaire investor evades taxes.

"Smith committed serious crimes, but he also agreed to cooperate," said David Anderson, the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco. Smith signed a non-prosecution agreement in which he admitted he repeatedly made false filings with the IRS, even after he attempted to enter an amnesty program in 2014. He agreed to pay more than $139 million in back IRS taxes, interest and penalties after a four year investigation. He will cooperate for five years. So statement of facts that Smith agreed to chips away at the carefully crafted public image that he had erected over the past five years as he has used a charitable foundation he runs and his family money to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to various philanthropic causes. Billionaire investor evades taxes. 

Smith admitted that he used $2.5 million in untaxed funds to buy and renovate a vacation home in Sonoma, California, paying for it in 2005 with private equity funds deposited into accounts in the British Virgin Islands and Banque Bonhote in Switzerland. In 2010, Smith moved to Switzerland for a time and brought two ski properties and a commercial property in the French Alps, all with untaxed money in the Swiss account. Smith, who owns several homes throughout the U.S., now lives in Austin, Texas.

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