Ty Warner, the Chicago billionaire and part-time Santa Barbara resident who owns the Four Seasons Biltmore, has been charged with federal tax evasion and plans to pay a $53 million penalty.
Warner, the mind behind the wildly successful Beanie Baby toys, was charged with allegedly failing to report income he earned in a secret offshore financial account he held with Swiss bank UBS, according to federal prosecutors in Illinois. His defense lawyer told the Associated Press that Warner plans to plead guilty to the charges.
“This is an unfortunate situation that Mr. Warner has been trying to resolve for several years now,” Gregory Scandaglia told the Associated Press, saying that Warner accepted full responsbility for his actions.
Federal prosecutors say Warner opened the account in 1996 and later transferred the assets to a second Swiss bank, Zürcher Kantonalbank, in 2002, when the account had a balance of approximately $93.6 million.
That year, Warner allegedly earned approximately $3.1 million in gross income through investments held in his UBS account, according to the charge. By omitting his UBS income, Warner falsely reported his total income in 2002 was $49.1 million, according to the charge.
“Regardless of wealth, everyone must pay taxes on all of their income, not just the amount they choose to report. The charge alleges that Warner went to great lengths to hide from his accountants and the IRS more than $3.1 million in foreign income generated in a secret Swiss account. Such conduct invites federal prosecution,” Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said in a news release.