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Billionaire accused of using Bermuda trust for tax evasion dies

Tech tycoon Robert Brockman (Photograph supplied)

A billionaire charged with tax evasion and money laundering through a web of offshore entities in Bermuda and Nevis has died.

Robert Brockman, 81, who was indicted in 2020 in what has been called the largest tax evasion case against an individual in the United States, died on Friday, according to news reports.

His lawyers had argued that the tech tycoon was unfit to face the charges because he suffered from dementia.

But US District Judge George C. Hanks Jr dismissed those claims in May, declaring that the defendant had exaggerated his symptoms, and set a trial date for February.

Mr Brockman faced 39 counts, including evading taxes on $2 billion of income, wire fraud and money laundering.

The charges came after a Bermuda-based lawyer who worked for Mr Brockman testified against his former employer before a grand jury.

According to the judgment, Evatt Tamine recounted how he and Mr Brockman took many steps to conceal his boss’s control of a multibillion-dollar family trust in Bermuda, including the use of code names, the encryption of communications and destruction of evidence.

The Fairylands home of Mr Tamine, an Australian who gained Bermudian status by marriage five years ago, was raided by police assisting the US Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service in September 2018.

In another hearing last November, Mr Tamine insisted that Mr Brockman had done nothing illegal.

NBC News said that the wealthiest Black citizen in the US, Robert Smith, Brockman's former business associate, was to be a key witness against him. Smith avoided charges by admitting to evading taxes, paying $139 million in taxes and penalties and agreeing to cooperate.

At issue in the criminal case against Mr Brockman was the allegation that he avoided taxes through an offshore charitable trust that prosecutors said he controlled secretly — and which he said was independent.

It was not immediately clear how Mr Brockman’s death would affect the Government’s ability to recover the taxes it says are owed.

Mr Brockman was born in Florida, where his father ran a petrol station and his mother worked as a physiotherapist. As a businessman, he registered dozens of patents and founded Reynolds & Reynolds, a software company that boasted more than 5,000 employees and was worth more than $5 billion, according to Bloomberg.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Dorothy; a son, Robert Brockman II; a brother; and two grandchildren, Bloomberg added.