Russian billionaire Oleg Tinkov agrees to pay $500 million to escape prosecution for US tax fraud

The founder of one of Russia’s largest private banks has reached a plea deal with the US authorities after the tycoon agreed to pay over $500 million in a fraud case that accused him of concealing assets to evade taxes.

The banker, whose fortune is reportedly worth about $8 billion, agreed to pay $506,828,377, including unpaid taxes from 2013, the penalty for civil fraud, and interest, the Justice Department said on Friday.

Oleg Tinkov was arrested in Britain in February 2020 at the behest of the US, but avoided extradition because he was undergoing medical treatment for leukemia.

According to the US Justice Department, the billionaire hid $1 billion in assets and income in 2013. Back then, Tinkov renounced his US citizenship, days after Tinkoff Credit Systems, the Russian branchless online bank he’d founded, held an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange.

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According to the prosecutors, Tinkov falsely reported income of less than $206,000 in a tax return despite getting over $192 million after selling part of his majority shareholder stake when his bank went public. 

The US tax regulations requires American citizens  to pay taxes on income earned abroad as in the case of Tinkov, who returned to Russia after receiving his American passport in 1996. Individuals with more than $2 million in assets who renounce their US citizenship are required to pay an exit tax based on any income and capital gains they would receive if they sold their assets.

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