Moris Zukerman, a former Morgan Stanley banker turned energy investor, has pleaded guilty of evading taxes to the tune of $45 million to the Manhattan federal court.
The plea follows a two-year grand jury investigation into Zukerman’s business activities as chairman of an investment firm bearing his name. Many of these activities were focused on the energy business, with Zukerman co-owning an oil company with ConocoPillips. He sold this company back in 2008, and the court found, evaded paying taxes on the $130-million deal. The funds he received then were diverted into a fund and to various companies to hide from the IRS.
Zukerman used part of the proceeds from the oil company sale to buy works of art. He then avoided paying the taxes on these acquisitions by using corporate shipping addresses for the deliveries of the paintings.
A further charge against Zukerman concerned a $1-million charitable contribution deduction related to a real estate buy on Black Island that the prosecution proved was fraudulent.
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Zukerman, who spent 16 years with Morgan Stanley, eventually co-heading its energy group, set up his own investment company in the late 1980s. The company focuses on energy and other natural resources as well as agriculture.
Zukerman agreed to plead guilty on the charges and also agreed not to appeal any sentence for 7-1/4 years in prison or less. Sentencing is scheduled for 5 December.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.