Irony-“Because it’s the Law” – For once, NOT applied to non-willful expats but a “citizenship” Lawyer

While this particular post is not about a tax-compliance professional per sé, it IS about a person with whom many of us have had interactions and from whom we have been assured we WILL BE CAUGHT in one way or another. Given that, I find it extremely ironic to come across what follows in this post. How many of you who have paid a retainer or left any other type of funds when using a lawyer, ever worry about that person absconding with it?

David S Lesperance used to post comments on Brock. Here is an example of the first of many on the post “Americansabroad in Canada may soon be unable to receive payments from Government by USCitizenAbroad, September 16, 2013.

First comment Continuing to ignore the issue; yell at your foreign banker for closing your account; hoping and praying that FATCA and the Qualified Intermediary Regime will be revoked; etc. are all a waste of time. It is time to either comply with the law or expatriate. Complaining is just a waste of time.

I believe my first real exchange with him occurred sometime back on a WSJ article “The Law That Makes U.S. Expats Toxic” October 10 2015 (paywalled-I can’t get around it with the Google News action). Unfortunately, while I have my own comments via my profile, I cannot access the article nor his comments. This limits what I would like to address for the most part. The first set of comments was his reaction to my referring to him as a tax-compliance professional. He did not agree with that label. It was an exchange where I felt constantly challenged at being tripped up especially because I could not (yet) refute the idea that the Qualified Intermediary program (QI) would “out” us hands-down. And I let him have the upper-hand to a certain degree, because he was a professional and I assumed he would know more than I. We seemed to develop a respectful, civil relationship. On several occasions since, I posted comments for him as he could not log on for some reason. I was aware he was in Poland visiting family as he explained it.

Later comments on Brock:

Comment on US Intention to Pursue Enforcement in Spite of Foreign Law

Comment on Do Canadian or Australian etc Tax Attorneys Advising on United States IRS Compliance Typically Comply with the Professional Code of Conduct of their Law societies?

I was very surprised to see some of the Tweets on Twitter when Keith Redmond tried to warn Accidentals not to put themselves into the US tax system. It is interesting that without any proof as to the ability of IRS able to collect via QI, he presumes it and treats Keith in a manner I found inappropriate and unprofessional. I believe the point of contention was to prove that actual Accidental Americans had been “outed” due to QI. This was not provided, nor has it been since that time. There were others that ganged up in more “attacks” that I will not put up here. Brock/Wed Rally Tweeps will remember this extremely unpleasant incident. After that, I declined to post anything further on his behalf. What is ironic, is a number of exchanges that took place privately, up to as late as March 16, with no indication of any actions such as this:

Law Society of Upper Canada Files a Notice for Interlocuatory Suspension or Restriction Against David Sylvio Lesperance Filed March 10, 2017
or this:
Wareh vs Lesperance

I still, all things considered, find this incredibly difficult to believe. And I suppose until one has had due process, all things are allegations only. I will not outline the discrepancies other than to mention the amount involved is just short of €900,000. Please read the links above for the whole story. Point Eight from the Law Society Motion states:

ontario law soc conc dsl

And then I came upon this:

This Man Can Help You Escape the IRS Forever

The Canadian-born lawyer is among the world’s leading champions of transnational exit plans for the superwealthy. Business is booming. Lesperance says he has expatriated more than 300 ultrarich Americans to date—he calls them “golden geese”—and has set up contingency plans for countless others. Thiel is not a client, but Lesperance says several household-name techies are. Mad Max scenarios aside, their goal is tax avoidance. If that means giving up an American passport, so be it.

Of course tax avoidance is completely legal. Carried interest is a share of the profits of an investment paid to the investment manager.It is treated as a return on investment (capital gains) as opposed to income as compensation for services. There have been many Recent regulatory attempts by the Democrats to tax this as regular income. Dave Camp’s 2014 Ways & Means Proposal suggested raising it from 23.8 percent to 35 percent. You can bet your booties all this is legal but it certainly does not flow with the spirit of the law. And it is clear the wealthy are quite upfront about why they are doing it.

He got into the golden-goose game as a newly minted lawyer in 1990, when he was approached by a Detroit attorney who wanted to quit the United States for tax reasons. The client had already stowed part of his $15 million net worth in an “offshore bucket” and purchased citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis. Lesperance helped him relinquish his US passport and set up permanent residency in Canada. For three years, the client commuted daily from Windsor to Detroit to wrap up his business while still fulfilling Canada’s residency requirement. He then declared himself a nonresident citizen of Canada and moved to Australia, where a retiree incentive program permanently exempted his offshore trust from taxation. “I thought it was very cool and very cute,” Lesperance says.

I thought it was very cool and very cute,” Lesperance says.

I wonder how “very cool and very cute” FINCEN would find this.

This statement is rather disturbing. Here we have a lawyer, with whom some of us have engaged online etc, who has had one message for quite some time, that we needed to comply because of the ability of U.S. law and the ability to collect levies. I presumed that Mr. Lesperance took such a position:
1) because he felt no one else had noticed and his observation was important
(though why any need for FATCA if that were so?) and

2) because he believed in tax compliance

It was probably inevitable that the lawyer would one day act upon his own counsel. When we first spoke, in 2015, Lesperance had arranged a backup citizenship for himself, but he wouldn’t say where. That goose has now flown. You can find him in sunny Portugal.

But perhaps not for the reason as stated in this article. (The author of the article has been advised of the actions of the Ontario Law Society; the article remains online).

Karen Alpert and I have been working on a paper to outline whether or not the QI program can do what Mr. Lesperance claims it can. We hope to put it up in the reasonably near future.

I have yet to thoroughly research whether or not Canada has an extradition treaty with Poland.

The following 2 items/links are courtesy of Sora Fon at American Expatriates FB

Treaty between Canada and the Republic of Poland on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

295 COMMENTS from The Law That Makes U.S. Expats Toxic, A measure targeting tax evasion pushes Americans out of bank accounts—and jobs—abroad.
By Colleen Graffy.