A Dutch tax advisor who had a client list of top DJs and fashion industry figures was charged with scheming to conceal more than $100 million from the Internal Revenue Service.
Frank Butselaar was arrested earlier in Italy on a request from the U.S. and taken back into custody this week after a favorable extradition ruling, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
Prosecutors allege that Butselaar, 63, of Naarden, in the Netherlands, conspired to hide millions of dollars of income generated by his clients, including two internationally renowned DJs that used a series of offshore entities to conceal their earnings that were held by trusts established on his advice. Butselaar devised similar schemes for some people in the fashion industry, according to the U.S.
A lawyer for Butselaar in the Netherlands, Annabel Vissers, said that her client believes he “operated within all the international tax laws and treaties.”
“He worked within the legal framework that tax treaties gave him,” Vissers said. “The reason to build these structures in the first place was to avoid the risk of double taxation.”
Greenberg Traurig and Tiesto
None of the clients were identified by prosecutors, but Butselaar was named in a suit filed by his former employer, law firm Greenberg Traurig, seeking a court order declaring it is not liable to Tijs Verwest, a DJ known as Tiesto, for reimbursement of payments he made for taxes due in 2016 and 2017.
The firm said in its suit, filed in February 2022 in federal court in Colorado, that Tiesto’s Dutch advisors hired Butselaar in or around 2008 to advise the DJ on an international tax structure through 2013, when Butselaar left the firm.
Greenberg Traurig said Tiesto has threatened to sue the firm in the Netherlands for malpractice, alleging he overpaid his U.S. taxes due to advice from Butselaar. The law firm says its representation of the DJ ended in 2013 and that it wasn’t responsible for his tax returns or his obligation to pay.
Greenberg said in its suit that Tiesto agreed to pay more than $75,000 to the Internal Revenue Service in 2020 for the tax years 2016 and 2017 as part of an agreement to resolve his potential liability for US taxes.
A lawyer representing the DJ in the Colorado case didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment on the charges against Butselaar.
“This wasn’t just a get rich quick scheme, but rather Butselaar sought to play the long game and used a variety of sophisticated techniques to perpetuate this tax fraud over the course of several years,” Special Agent Thomas Fattorusso of the IRS said in the prosecutors’ statement.
Butselaar is charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and five counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns. He faces as many as five years in prison on the most serious charges.
The case is U.S. v. Butselaar, 22-cr-560, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
— With assistance from April Roach