O’Brien, who was on the run for more than a decade, had avoided conviction in a crime he’d committed as a child in Toronto in the 1980s. His guilty plea had also allowed him to avoid the death penalty. But he kept up his secret lifestyle — with an offshore corporation he operated out of British Columbia — in the hope that he would get out of prison again and avoid returning home.
In the last few years, American officials were increasingly probing offshore tax havens, where criminals can hide assets from authorities. In 2010, former President Barack Obama approved legislation known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, which require foreign financial institutions to report the foreign assets held by Americans. It also requires that financial institutions transfer accounts to U.S. banks.
After reports in 2014 and 2015 of secret offshore accounts being used by organizations to avoid taxes, Obama and Republican President Donald Trump also signed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, into law.
But in 2015, U.S. prosecutors had issued a major indictment against him, charging that he had created a hidden network of trusts and limited liability companies to give him cash and assets to avoid U.S. taxes. Three people pleaded guilty to charges in the related case and testified against O’Brien in a trial that ended with a unanimous verdict that he used offshore accounts to hide a Swiss bank account worth $15 million.