Kings Bench barrister held in US over alleged $10m tax fraud

A British barrister is being held in a Manhattan jail accused of aiding a $10m tax fraud.

Michael Little
Michael Little

Michael Little, a probationary tenant at Bournemouth’s Kings Bench Chambers, was arrested on Thursday night as he arrived at Kennedy International Airport on a fight from London, according to Associated Press (AP).

A federal magistrates judge in Manhattan has set his bail at $2m.

Little, who qualified as a solicitor in 2008 and transferred to the bar in 2010, was admitted to the New York Bar in September 2005, according to his chambers profile page.

Kings Bench senior clerk Alan Conner said that Little’s probationary position with the set meant that he was effectively in a “squatting situation” to allow chambers to see if he was good enough before offering him full tenancy.

Conner refused to be drawn on Little’s future and declined to comment further.

Little is accused of advising the family of a former Fidelity Investments executive on how to dodge US taxes by hiding millions overseas.

Little is accused of defrauding the Internal Revenue Service by hiding at least $10m (£6.2m) overseas in Swiss bank accounts and elsewhere.

Prior to doing his pupillage at Kings Bench Little practised as a solicitor at Grais & Ellsworth, a New York law firm specialising in sub-prime mortgage litigation.

According to his chambers profile, Little’s practice includes property, commercial contract and probate, professional negligence, crime, serious fraud and prison law, and he represents mostly European plaintiffs in high-stakes civil litigation.

His career has also included stints on Wall Street and in London as a capital markets specialist.

Assistant US Attorney Stanley Okula accused Little of engaging in a decade-long tax evasion scheme in which he counselled the family of the late Harry Seggerman, who died in May 2001. Seggerman retired as a vice chairman of Fidelity in 1992.

In court papers, the US Government said Little defrauded the Internal Revenue Service by advising family members that they could bring money back to the US in “little chunks” through traveller’s cheques or by disguising money transfers to the US as being related to the sales of artwork or jewellery, according to AP.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We’re aware of the arrest of a British National in New York and we’re in contact with the authorities there.”