For Immediate Release
Path-Breaking UBS Whistleblower Rewarded With Jail Sentence
National Whistleblowers Center Concerned That The Treatment of Mr. Birkenfeld Will Discourage Future Whistleblowers
WASHINGTON - Today whistleblower Bradley C.
Birkenfeld was sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison for
assisting a client at UBS to evade taxes. Mr. Birkenfeld on his own
initiative blew the whistle on UBS, Switzerland's largest bank. His
disclosure and cooperation with U.S. authorities provided inside
information into the bank's conduct and began the dismantling of the
historic secrecy of Swiss banks. In fact by blowing the whistle, Mr.
Birkenfeld's disclosure directly led to a ground-breaking legal
settlement in which UBS agreed to pay $780 million in fines and UBS and
the Swiss Government have agreed to turn over the names of thousands of
Americans suspected of tax evasion.
Dean A. Zerbe,
former tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee where he was the key
staffer for writing the IRS
tax whistleblower laws and now NWC Special Council, released the
following statement on Mr. Birkenfeld's sentence: "It stuns me that the
reward for a whistleblower who shined the light on extensive tax fraud
and corruption is being sent to jail. Without Mr. Birkenfeld coming
forward, the U.S. would not be where it is today in cracking open
secret Swiss bank accounts"
Zerbe added "If the U.S. is serious about detecting fraud they have to
play ball with the insider - not throw them out of the stadium. The
U.S. needs to recognize that you do not invite boy scouts when you are
planning tax fraud. The U.S. decision to send to prison this
whistleblower sends a terrible message to other potential
whistleblowers and is a real set-back in efforts to deal with tax
and financial fraud."
Since 1988, the NWC and attorneys associated with it have supported whistleblowers in the courts and before Congress and achieved victories for environmental protection, government contract fraud, nuclear safety and government and corporate accountability.