Thursday, January 02, 2014

No Fifth Amendment Protection in Documents Required By Off-Shore Banking Regulations

US v. Under Seal: John and Jane Doe (Husband & wife? Brother & sister? Unrelated business partners given the same phony name?  The opinion doesn't say) had Swiss bank accounts and were being investigated for hiding assets there to avoid the IRS.  A grand jury subpoena was issued, directing the Does to turn over records about the accounts they were required to keep under Treasury regulations dealing with offshore banking.  They sought to crush the subpoena, asserting a Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination.  The district court denied that request and ordered the records disclosed and ordered the Does held in civil contempt (but stayed that part of the order).

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the decision to require the records be disclosed.  The court found that the "required records doctrine" applied and that the documents requested were not protected by privilege.  The record keeping requirement was "essentially regulatory," the records were of a kind normally kept in the course of business, and contained "public aspects" that rendered them at least analogous to public records.

NOTE: This case was decided on December 13, 2013.

No comments: