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The Daily

Oil Investor Accused of $45 Million Worth of Tax Evasion

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
May 24, 2016
GavelA wealthy oil investor, Morris Zuckerman, has been accused of evading $45 million worth of taxes, according to Bloomberg. The government said that he failed to report gains from the sale of a company that made refined oil products and specialty solvents that should have generated a $31 million income tax liability. However, said Bloomberg, the government said he lied to his accountants by saying he transferred the investment to a family trust, and that his firm's parent company was not liable for capital gains taxes, using phony and backdated documents as proof. 

Using money from the company's sale, the indictment then says he went on to buy $52 million worth of fine art in the form of 73 oil paintings, and used a complicated series of maneuverings to avoid paying sales tax on them. Bloomberg said he would get local galleries to let him hang the paintings in his Park Avenue duplex as a sort of test drive to see how they looked on his walls. Once he decided to buy the paintings, he would have them shipped to companies he controlled in Delaware and New Jersey, at which point they were immediately returned to his apartment. Bloomberg said did a similar thing to avoid sales taxes on a pair of $645,000 diamond earrings. 

He is also accused of trying to write off a $1 million land purchase as a charitable contribution, and then provided misleading documentation to IRS auditors who questioned the deduction.