IRS to recoup investments close to US$1.7 million
According to reports, IRS agents will soon be arriving in Jamaica within days to recoup investments close to US$1.7 million traced by local investigators to former Miami CPA and Jamaican-American Pamella Watson.
Watson, 61, is currently serving a 78-month sentence in the Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Central Florida, following her tax fraud conviction in December. A former prominent leader among the Caribbean diaspora in South Florida as CEO of the accounting firm Watson and Co. P.A, she was arrested last May on charges including wire fraud, money laundering, and falsifying her clients tax returns, resulting in her defrauding the IRS of US$3.6 million. This included the $1.7 million traced to investments in Jamaica by the Financial Investigations Division (FID), as part of the country’s Ministry of Finance.
The funds to be confiscated are part of a federal agreement forfeiting funds to the state following her tax fraud conviction. Prior to her sentencing, Watson agreed to a plea bargain, in which she agreed to restore significant portions of the funds she defrauded. Watson’s attorney Bruce Rogow said this agreement played a major role in reducing her sentence, which could have been as much as 20 years.
A close relative of Watson, who requested anonymity, confirmed that the IRS had been in touch with Jamaica authorities, and arrangements have been made for some of the related funds to be repatriated to the IRS.
“Although I cannot confirm that the IRS is sending agents to pick up the funds, I have been reliably advised that the funds have been prepared and checks drawn to make the relevant restitution, agreed between Pamela and the federal court,” said the anonymous source.
Reclaiming fund in a foreign sovereign county, says Broward accountant Learie Mullings, is normal and perfectly within legal means in the case of tax fraud involving the IRS.
“If Miss Watson had not agreed to make restitution, the IRS would have exercised their legal right to seek restitution by obtaining a court order requesting the financial institutions and companies she made deposits and investments in Jamaica to liquidate these accounts and repay the IRS,” says Mullings. “In this case, since Miss Watson volunteered a court agreement to make restitution, she essentially gave the IRS the authority to collect the repayments from the Jamaican institutions.”
“The IRS is an agent of the U.S. government, and trust me, the government will find a way to get back its funds if it’s defrauded and can trace these funds,” said North Miami Beach fraud investigator Justin Nealy.
According to the Jamaican report, the IRS has so far identified J$107 million (US$880,545) at two licensed financial institutions in Jamaica and the institutions are working with the agency to deliver the related repayment checks. The report said further investigations are on-going to secure the remaining funds from Jamaican entities in which Watson made investments.