Beanie Baby Founder Ty Warner Pleads Guilty, Will Pay Up Millions

Beanie Baby founder Ty Warner struck it rich when his stuffed collectibles were doing a hot back and forth by the zillions on eBay in the late 90s — and subsequently, he admits, he had so much dough his cash went on vacation.

When the dust settled, the Beanie Baby founder had enough cheddar to stash tens of millions of bucks in Swiss bank accounts — a practice technically considered tax evasion.

The tax evasion charges go back to 2002, a year in which Warner stands accused of evading more than $880,000 in cash via a Swiss bank account. The account housed tens of millions of dollars, and Fox 8 reports:

“Prosecutors say Warner, 69, stashed over $93 million in an account with Swiss banking giant UBS, and later with Switzerland’s Zürcher Kantonalbank. He is accused of failing to pay $885,300 in taxes from 2002… As part of his plea agreement, Warner will pay a civil penalty of $53.5 million for failing to report the account, his lawyer, Gregory Scandaglia, said in a statement. Scandaglia called the case ‘an unfortunate situation that Mr. Warner has been trying to resolve for several years now.’ “

Prosecutor Gary Shapiro says that Gary Shapiro, US attorney in the Northern District of Illinois, argued that Warner’s Swiss stash
was something the Beanie mogul took significant measures to conceal, and warned potential tax cheats that “regardless of wealth, everyone must pay taxes on all of their income, not just the amount they choose to report.”

In addition to fines, the Beanie Baby founder could have faced five years in prison on the charges without the plea. (Is that more tax expenditure than Lauryn Hill was accused of hiding, or Wesley Snipes? Hmmmm…) Warner will pay $53.5 million by the terms of the plea.