Beanie Baby Billionaire to Pay $53 Million for Tax Evasion

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Sep 19 2013

It's a dark day for '90s kids.

The man that brought the world Beanie Babies—the adorable beanbag animals that were frantically purchased by parents and obsessively collected by children and adults – has agreed to plead guilty to U.S. tax evasion.

H. Ty Warner, the 69-year-old chief executive of Ty Inc., whose name most 20-somethings probably remember seeing on the red, heart-shaped tags clipped to their beloved plush toys, failed to report nearly $3.2 million in income on a secret Swiss bank account.

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Prosecutors say he was trying to evade paying as much as $1,257,064 in taxes. Under the terms of his agreement and, reportedly, because his offshore account held as much as $93.6 million in assets, he'll now pay $53.6 million in penalties. It's the largest offshore-account penalty on record.

The Beanie Baby billionaire – who later founded an eponymous luxury hotel business –first set up a bank account at the Swiss banking behemoth UBS in 1996. He shuffled his money through various offshore accounts since then, according to prosecutors. In one instance, his account was held under the name "Molani Foundation" to conceal his identity, according to the Department of Justice. 

The steep civil penalty Warner has agreed to pay won't clear up the criminal tax evasion charge he faces. Since tax evasion is a felony, Warner could also face a prison sentence of up to five years, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Warner's case is the latest in a U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion.

Earlier this year, Weglin & Co. a Switzerland bank, plead guilty to helping Americans hide $1.2 billion offshore, and in 2009, UBS admitted to harboring thousands of American accounts. It paid $780 million in a settlement and was forced to identify its U.S. account holders.

Since then, more than 80 U.S. taxpayers have been criminally charged with tax evasion through offshore accounts.

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