Indian American selected as Presidential Innovation Fellow

Indian American entrepreneur Karl Mehta has been selected among the 18 `Presidential Innovation Fellows` who will work on five `high-impact` projects in the US capital.

Updated: Aug 24, 2012, 09:08 AM IST

Washington: Indian American entrepreneur Karl Mehta has been selected among the 18 `Presidential Innovation Fellows` who will work on five `high-impact` projects in the US capital.

Selected from an applicant pool of nearly 700 innovators from across the country, the "Fellows" would spend six months in Washington DC to work on five high-impact projects aimed at supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and the economy, while significantly improving how the Federal Government serves the American people.

Mehta, the only Indian American to be present in this list of 18 fellows would work on "The 20 percent Initiative" programme.

"The 20 percent Initiative will work to transition `the last mile` of international development assistance payments from cash to electronic methods lowering administrative costs, promoting financial inclusion, and reducing theft, fraud, and violence," the White House said.

A member of TiE Silicon Valley, Mehta is founder & CEO of PlaySpan, which was acquired by Visa in March 2011.

He is said to be a leader in monetisation platform for digital media, mobile apps, social networks and online games.

With more than 18 years of experience in founding, building and funding technology companies in the US and international markets, Mehta before founding PlaySpan, was part of the founding team at MobileAria Inc (acquired by Wireless Matrix) based in Mountain View and co-founder/CEO of OmniLabs Inc, based in Singapore and India.

Prior to that, he held executive positions at Hughes, leading new business and technology development.

He won the `Entrepreneur of the Year 2010` Award from Ernst & Young for Northern California.
The fellows the first of its kind initiative of the White Hose was announced by the US Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park.

"The Presidential Innovation Fellows programme leverages the ingenuity of leading problem solvers from across America together with federal innovators to tackle projects that aim to fuel job creation, save taxpayers money and improve the lives of Americans in tangible ways," Park said.

"These private sector innovators bring their entrepreneurial expertise to the table that has helped jump-start high-tech companies, increase efficiency and public engagement, and redefine how technology is used in business," he said.

According to the White House, the five projects were selected because they are tough but tractable challenges whose solutions could provide immediate benefits and cost-savings to American citizens, entrepreneurs and businesses.

The 18 fellows have been divided to work on five different projects.

Ahuja failed to file an FBAR for 2009 to report his offshore accounts to the IRS. Ahuja`s accountant testified that he never disclosed the existence of his offshore accounts during the preparation of his tax returns.

"This prosecution reflects the continuing commitment to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals who fail to abide by well-established obligations to report and pay on their tax indebtedness," US Attorney for the Eastern District for Wisconsin James Santelle said.

Santelle said that underreporting income and failing to report foreign bank accounts will not be tolerated.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department`s Tax Division, John DiCicco said the case is a warning to individuals who think they can use offshore bank accounts to commit tax crimes.

HSBC had been at the core of a US crackdown on offshore tax evasion and had faced pressure from federal authorities to provide information about account holders who may be evading taxes by using offshore accounts, particularly in India.

Last year, the IRS had served a summons on the bank seeking information with regard to financial accounts of US persons maintained with its branches in India.

US citizens and residents who have an interest in or authority over a financial account in a foreign country with assets in excess of 10,000 dollars are required to disclose the existence of such account in their individual income tax returns.

Additionally, US citizens and residents are also obligated to file an FBAR with the United States Treasury disclosing any financial account in a foreign country with assets in excess of 10,000 dollars in which they have a financial interest, or over which they have signature or other authority.