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Milwaukee neurosurgeon convicted on tax counts

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A prominent Milwaukee neurosurgeon was convicted on tax charges for failing to disclose offshore bank accounts, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Dr. Arvind Ahuja was found guilty late Wednesday in U.S. District Court of Milwaukee of one count of filing a false tax return in 2009 and one count of failing to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts. He was acquitted on five other counts.

Prosecutors said Ahuja transferred millions of dollars to undeclared offshore bank accounts at HSBC bank in India. Prosecutors said he invested funds in certificates of deposit in these accounts, and earned more than $2.7 million in interest from 2005 through 2009. He also had accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey, off the coast of France.

Prosecutors said evidence showed in 2009, Ahuja failed to report interest earned on the certificates of deposit at HSBC bank India.

But the defense said the case should have been handled civilly, not in criminal court. Attorney Dan Webb said in a statement that “failing to check a box on a tax return or attach some arcane form is typically handled as a civil matter by the IRS.”

Defense attorney Thomas Kirsch told The Associated Press that Ahuja goes out of his way to pay his taxes and files massive tax returns each year. He said the issue is related to one missed tax form.

The defense said prosecutors did not present enough evidence to support the conviction and it is asking U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert to overturn it. Clevert took the request under advisement.

U.S. Attorney James Santelle said in a statement that the government is committed to enforcing tax laws fairly and even-handedly, and the jury’s verdict shows failing to report foreign bank accounts won’t be tolerated.

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