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White-Collar Crime

Harvard Law Donor Faced $100M Tax Probe at Time of Suicide, Source Says

Posted Sep 16, 2009 2:13 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Some 800 people attended the funeral of Finn Caspersen in Morristown, N.J., yesterday, alternately laughing and crying as the 67-year-old philanthropist and heir to the Beneficial Corp. fortune was remembered for his many good works. Among them, the Harvard Law School graduate pledged $30 million to his alma mater last year, the largest individual donation in its history.

But when Caspersen, who was suffering from kidney cancer, committed suicide earlier this month, a different institution may also have been in the forefront of his thinking, according to the New York Times.

He was being investigated by federal authorities on suspicion that he had evaded taxes by concealing assets in a bank account he had in Lichtenstein, the newspaper reports. Caspersen's account was at the private LGT bank controlled by Liechtenstein's royal family; as noted in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, federal authorities and the U.S. Senate have been looking into the activities of the LGT Group as well as UBS AG, a major Swiss bank.

An unidentified source told the Times Caspersen might have owed as much as $100 million in back taxes and penalties and potentially faced a prison term if convicted, and that authorities had recently put liens on his four sons' personal trusts.

His family declined to comment, as did a lawyer for his sons.

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