Florida man hiding nearly $100 million was 2nd-biggest tax cheat. What to know

Once again, a Florida man has made a national Top 10 list.

And once again, it's not for something good.

Mark Anthony Gyetvay of Naples was on the annual list of the Internal Revenue Service's biggest frauds for 2023, coming in at No. 2 just behind a billion-dollar biofuel tax conspiracy.

"Billions of dollars in fraud, victims across the globe and criminals who are all about personal gain. That's the crux of 2023's top 10 cases," said IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Jim Lee. "When I say our team at CI is the best at following the money trail, I mean it. Our investigators took down international tax schemes that preyed on people's personal information, investigated multi-level marketing schemes involving cryptocurrency and uncovered one of the largest fraud schemes in history centered around renewable fuel credits."

Here's what Gyetvay did.

Who is Mark Anthony Gyetvay?

Mark Anthony Gyetvay, of Naples, former chief financial officer of Novatek, a Russian natural gas company
Mark Anthony Gyetvay, of Naples, former chief financial officer of Novatek, a Russian natural gas company

Mark Anthony Gyetvay was a certified public accountant in Naples, with a residence in Pelican Bay.

New Jersey native Gyetvay, approximately 67, is also a citizen of both Russia and Italy, according to his Sept. 22, 2021 indictment. He joined Moscow-based PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1996. In 2003 Gyetway became Chief Financial Officer of Novatek, one of PwC's clients and Russia's largest independent natural gas producer, and helped guide the company through its initial public offering through the London Stock Exchange in 2005.

Gyetvay was considered a leading voice at Novatek, representing the company with investors and at industry events. He left the board of directors and the CFO position in 2014.

What did Mark Anthony Gyetvay do?

The short version: he hid nearly $100 million in undisclosed Swiss bank accounts and lied about it.

As part of Gyetvay's compensation package, he received the option to buy shares of stock of an affiliated company in the Cayman Islands which controlled one of the largest blocks of privately held shares of Novatek. After the company's IPO two years later, he also was promised a significant block of Novatek shares.

In 2005 and 2007, Gyetvay opened two different accounts at the Swiss Bank Coutts in Geneva to hold large sums of money, initially listing himself as sole beneficiary and requesting all correspondence to be held so nothing concerning the account would be mailed to him in the U.S.

After Coutts launched a tax compliance review for U.S. citizens and requested evidence of compliance from Gyetway, he hired a wealth advisory firm in Zurich, Switzerland, to help him hide his cash. Gyetvay changed his accounts to list his then-wife and Russian citizen, Ms. Gavrilova, as the sole beneficiary using her Moscow address instead of the place in Naples where she actually lived, according to the indictment.

Within a month Gyetvay created new accounts at Hyposwiss Privatbank Zurich, again with his wife as beneficiary, and later closed his Coutts accounts and moved his cash over, lying to the bank about the reason for the transfer and where the money came from, investigators said.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin granted him a Russian passport in 2019, when he was at Novatek," Vladimir Soldatkin reported for Reuters at the time, "in a move seen as potentially helping the U.S. national bypass some U.S. sanctions restrictions."

Gyetvay's tax fraud

Gyetvay, a certified public accountant, also repeatedly failed to file personal tax returns. His 2005 returns were filed in 2008 and 2006-2008 weren't filed till halfway through 2010. He didn't file returns for 2009-2014 at all, according to the indictment. When he did file, he underreported his income and didn't include the assets in his foreign bank accounts — which, at one point, totaled over $94 million, according to the federal government — or the interest earned from them.

He also failed to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBAR, despite having foreign bank accounts since at least 2001 and despite his own accountant's recommendation. FBARs are required from any U.S. taxpayers with a financial interest or signature over one or more foreign financial accounts with a total value of more than $10,000.

When threatened with significant financial penalties, Gyetvay made a false filing with the IRS using the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures, which is restricted to taxpayers who failed to report offshore assets and income by mistake rather than willfully, according to the Justice Department. He also finally filed FBARs for some but not all of his previous foreign bank accounts.

He paid taxes, interest and penalties of $4.6 million for his 2011-2013 tax returns, but investigation into his finances continued.

Gyetvay was arrested in September 2021 on tax charges and vowed to "vigorously fight" them in a post on Twitter, now X. He was ordered released on an $80 million bond.

Did Mark Anthony Gyetvay go to prison?

On Sept. 22, 2021, a grand jury in Fort Myers returned a 15-count indictment against Gyetvay. In March 2023, he was found guilty on four counts for failing to file a FBAR, making a false statement to the IRS and for willfully failing to file tax returns.

Gyetvay was sentenced to 86 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $350,000 fine.

Did Mark Anthony Gyetvay have to repay the money?

As part of the federal court sentencing, Gyetvay was ordered to pay approximately $4,021,074 in restitution to the United States

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: IRS tax fraud: Mark Anthony Gyetvay of Naples FL on 2023 Top 10 list