Former state Rep. Nathan Suzuki, who spent time in federal prison for setting up offshore corporations and bank accounts to help a friend hide money from the Internal Revenue Service, is appealing in state court to get back his accounting license.
Suzuki, a certified public accountant, pleaded guilty in 2004 to conspiring with Michael Boulware, president of Hawaiian Isles Enterprises, to set up the offshore corporations and accounts to evade paying taxes, and for using his state office to do so. A federal judge later sentenced Suzuki to three years in prison.
A jury in 2005 found Boulware guilty of conspiracy and multiple counts of filing false tax returns and tax evasion for diverting $10 million from his company to his personal use without reporting the money as income.
In 2008, the state Board of Public Accountancy started proceedings to consider whether it should allow Suzuki to continue practicing accounting in Hawaii.
The board decided last month to revoke Suzuki’s license but suspended the revocation for three years, during which time Suzuki will not be allowed to practice accounting or advertise himself as a CPA.
Suzuki’s license expired in 2005 and his lawyer Eric Seitz says Suzuki has not practiced since 2001. However, the revocation will prevent Suzuki from applying for a new license during the period of suspension.
The state Real Estate Commission allowed Suzuki to reapply for his real estate broker’s license but put him on probation for the first two years.
Suzuki had asked the accountancy board for a similar penalty or to start the suspension retroactive to an earlier date rather than when it issued its final order last month. He had also argued that based on a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Boulware case, the charge to which he had pleaded guilty is not a crime.
The Supreme Court said the trial judge should have allowed Boulware to tell the jury that the $10 million he diverted was money he had earlier invested in the company and therefore not taxable income. When the case went back to a lower appeals court, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, it refused Boulware a new trial because it said Boulware did not present sufficient evidence to support his claim.