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British attorney held on $2M bail on NY tax charge

Associated Press Modified: May 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm •  Published: May 11, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Bail was set at $2 million and home detention with electronic monitoring was ordered Friday for a British attorney arrested and accused of advising the family of a former top Fidelity Investments executive how to dodge U.S. taxes by hiding millions of dollars overseas.

Michael Little, 61, of Hampshire, England, was likely to remain incarcerated overnight after a U.S. magistrate judge in Manhattan ordered bail secured by at least $1 million in cash or property on the charge of conspiracy to commit tax fraud. The German-born Little, who has a residence in Long Island City, was arrested Thursday night as he arrived at Kennedy International Airport on a flight from London, where he lives with his wife and children.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stanley Okula said Little engaged in a decade-long tax evasion scheme in which he counseled the family of the late Harry Seggerman how to hide at least $10 million overseas. He called the evidence "compelling, strong." Seggerman died in May 2001. He retired as a vice chairman of Fidelity in 1992.

Okula urged a high bail, saying Little was a flight risk because he had substantial money and ties to the United Kingdom, which has been reluctant in the past to extradite to the U.S. individuals charged with tax crimes.

A lawyer for Little said in court that he had been a lawful permanent resident in the United States for 40 years and was licensed to practice as a lawyer in New York, where he has cases pending, including in the courthouse where he sat, his blue shirt dangling over his pants.

Afterward, another defense attorney, Elkan Abramowitz, emailed a statement, saying: "We are studying the charges contained in the complaint. We are confident that in the end we will be able to demonstrate that there is no merit to any of them."

In court papers, the government said Little met with Seggerman's beneficiaries and descendants at a Manhattan hotel in August 2001 and told them that the patriarch had left them about $10 million of a more than $20 million estate in overseas accounts that had never been declared to U.S. taxing authorities.

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