Female oil tycoon, 73, pleads guilty of tax fraud scheme

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Joyce Meads, 73, of College Station, Texas, pleaded guilty on Friday to tax fraud.  The oil tycoon was caught using offshore accounts in Panama to hide more than $1.3 million in oil well royalty income, according to Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Meads admitted to filing false individual income tax returns from 1997 through 2009 in which she did not declare her earnings of more than $1.3 million.

According to court documents, from 1997 through 2010 she conspired with offshore promoters to disguise her income by setting up nominee companies in Delaware and Panama in the name of W.G. Holdings Corporation. She then transferred her interest in the oil wells to the nominee entity in Delaware.  Meads’s monthly royalty checks were issued to W.G. Holdings.

Documents showed that Meads had kept her scam going for nearly a decade by having her royalty checks sent to a Miami post office box where they were picked up, couriered to Panama and deposited into her nominee accounts. Meads repatriated funds by disguising them as scholarships or loans from W.G. Holdings to herself. She later transferred the funds to bank accounts in her own name or her mother’s name.”

Meads admitted that she caused taxpayers to lose more than $250,000.

Along with Meads, Marc Harris of The Harris Organization, Republic of Panama, and Boyce Griffin of Offshore Management Alliance Ltd., Republic of Panama have been convicted of conspiracy and other related charges. They were both sentenced to prison terms.

“For more than a decade, Joyce Meads attempted to conceal her income from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by assigning it to a nominee entity and stashing it offshore,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg. “As today’s plea makes clear – the days of safely hiding your money offshore are over – the DOJ continues to work with its law enforcement partners to find and hold accountable those who seek to evade paying their fair share of taxes.”

Chief Richard Weber of IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) noted, “Joyce Meads’ attempt to use complex offshore schemes to evade paying her fair share of income taxes was no match for the skills of IRS Criminal Investigation special agents.”

Looking at a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison as well as a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties, Meads is scheduled to learn her fate on Aug. 4.

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