DC telecom exec indicted on tax charges

Entrepreneur Walter Anderson arrested on Saturday

A Washington, D.C., telecommunications entrepreneur and investor, has been indicted on tax evasion and related charges after allegedly failing to pay more than $200 million in taxes owned to the U.S. and District of Columbia governments, three government agencies announced Monday.

Walter Anderson, 51, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Washington on 12 counts related to tax evasion. He was arrested Saturday, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the District of Columbia's Office of Tax and Revenue.

Anderson started two telecom companies between 1984 and 1992, managed a private investment fund, and in 1999-2000 reportedly invested $21 million in an attempt to turn the Russian Mir space station into a tourist destination.

The indictment alleges that over a five-year period, Anderson earned nearly a half billion dollars through investments in business ventures he conducted through offshore corporations. He set up the offshore companies to make it appear that he did not personally make the money, the indictment says.

A spokesman for Orbital Recovery Corp., where Anderson is chief executive officer, didn't immediately have a comment on Anderson's indictment.

The grand jury charged that, beginning in 1992, Anderson allegedly formed an offshore company to disguise anticipated income from the merger between his first telecom company, Mid Atlantic Telecom, and another company. At the time, Anderson allegedly owed the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, interest and penalties for failing to pay federal income tax in prior years.

In October 1992, Anderson allegedly formed an offshore corporation named Gold & Appel Transfer in the British Virgin Islands, according to the indictment. Anderson allegedly granted himself an exclusive option to purchase Gold & Appel shares for a small amount of money, insuring that no one else could own these remaining shares.

Between October 1992 and July 1996, the indictment alleges, Anderson transferred his ownership interests in three telecommunications companies -- Mid Atlantic Telecom, Esprit Telecom and Telco Communications Group -- to Gold & Appel and a second company he formed, Iceberg Transport SA, based in Panama. When stock was sold, Gold & Appel and Iceberg, not Anderson, would appear to be the taxpayer, according to the indictment.

If convicted of the charges, Anderson faces up to 80 years in prison.