Best Excuse EVER! (2009)

Blaming Your Swiss Banker

Billionaire Igor Olenicoff, who owns homes in Laguna Beach and Florida and operates his Olenicoff Properties Inc. out of a Newport Beach office, has pleaded guilty to various tax crimes and paid heavy fines since 2007. The 66-year-old admitted wrongdoing and took some responsibility, telling the Bloomberg news agency, "Once you do something wrong, you 'fess up and you pay for it." And he has. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney in Santa Ana sentenced Olenicoff to two years of probation; 120 hours of community service; and $52 million in back taxes, interest and penalties. But in an odd twist, Olenicoff in June blamed his illegal tax sheltering on his Swiss bankers, saying they forced him to lie on his U.S. tax returns about his foreign holdings. Further, he alleged the U.S. government has been more lax in penalizing Geneva-based UBS AG bank than it has him, arguing $52 million hits him a lot harder than the $780 million in penalties the feds levied against UBS AG. "That's lunch money for them, right?" Olenicoff rhetorically asked Bloomberg's David Voreacos. Claiming there are 52,000 Americans somehow affected by the bank's fraud, Olenicoff has sued his banker for $500 million, which he vows to donate to one of his charities. Bank officials claim the suit has no merit and they will vigorously defend it. But their fortunes have also fallen drastically since Olenicoff exposed their standard operating procedures. Bet they wish they could get back that free toaster given to new customers.


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