Steel Mills

Former Severstal Trading Exec Indicted for US Tax Evasion

Written by Sandy Williams

A former Severstal executive has been indicted for hiding as much as $7.5 million from US tax authorities in Swiss bank accounts held at UBS AG.

Victor Lipukhin, a former steel trader for Russian steel maker Severstal, hid assets in two Swiss UBS bank accounts from 2002 through 2007, said the Justice Department and IRS in a press release on Friday. Lipukhin, a Russian citizen, was a resident of St. Charles, Illinois from 2001 through mid-2007 and, therefore, subject to US tax laws.

In 2002, Lipukhin and another individual transferred $47 million from a UBS account in the Bahamas to a Zurich-based UBS account under a sham Bahamian entity, Old Orchard. In 2003, Lipukhin became sole owner of the account while maintaining another UBS account in Switzerland under the Bahamian entity Lone Star. Lipukhin directed transactions for both accounts through a Bahamian national and failed to report ownership and income on his US taxes.

The DOJ said Lipukhin used shell companies to purchase real estate in the US and to open bank accounts to further conceal the UBS accounts.

Media reports and the Department of Justice press release refer to Lipukhin as a former “president of Severstal Inc. (USA)”–a title that Severstal says is incorrect.

A statement released by Severstal on Saturday said, “Until 2002 Mr. Lipukhin worked for the company’s US-based trade office. He has never been a senior executive at Severstal. For a long time he has been not affiliated with Severstal. We also do not have any information about his activities or whereabouts.”

An article by the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Nov. 11, 2001 identified Victor Lipukhin as “president of Severstal Trade Inc. and son of the company’s chairman.”

If convicted of tax evasion, Lipukhin could face imprisonment.

UBS is one of several foreign banks that have been targeted by the Justice Department for fostering US tax evasion. In 2009, UBS admitted to helping Americans evade taxes, paid a $780 million fine and disclosed secret US accounts to avoid prosecution.

Latest in Steel Mills