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Heir to fortune hidden in Switzerland pleads guilty to U.S. tax fraud

By Patrick Temple-West

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An heir to a wealthy New York investment manager's fortune has pleaded guilty to conspiring with family members to hide more than $12 million from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in Swiss bank accounts, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Henry Seggerman, 60, and his five siblings inherited about $24 million from their father, Harry Seggerman, who died in May 2001, according to court documents released by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

That amount included more than $12 million hidden in secret Swiss bank accounts that the younger Seggerman, co-executor of the estate, did not disclose, prosecutors said.

Seggerman awaits sentencing and faces up to 11 years in prison, according to his plea deal. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of falsifying tax returns.

"This is a sad case of the sins of the father being visited upon his children," Seggerman's attorney Christopher Ferguson, of Kostelanetz & Fink LLP, told Reuters. He added that his client is cooperating with prosecutors.

Four of the five siblings were co-executors. The fifth was not excluded from the estate, but did not receive a portion of the offshore inheritance, according to Ferguson.

Three Seggerman estate beneficiaries - Edmund, Yvonne and Suzanne - pleaded guilty months ago to related charges.

"Henry Seggerman and three of his siblings inherited and continued a family tax fraud scheme. Now, four members of this family stand convicted of tax crimes," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

Two other siblings, Patricia and Marianne Seggerman, have not been charged.

The case is assigned to Judge Alvin Hellerstein and no sentencing date has been set. As part of his plea, Seggerman agreed to pay $600,000 as partial restitution.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Phil Berlowitz)

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