The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Lindsey M.
Williams (202) 342-1903

Swiss Parliament Rejects UBS DOJ Dea

NWC Condemns Failure of United States to Prosecute Tax Criminals


The Federal Assembly of the
Swiss parliament voted to reject a deal between the Department of
Justice (DOJ) and UBS in which UBS had agreed to turn over the names of
4,450 U.S. citizens who held secret and illegal bank accounts at UBS.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers
Center and attorney for Bradley Birkenfeld, said:
"This vote is a setback to all U.S. taxpayers and demonstrates the
bankruptcy of the Department of Justice's negotiations with UBS. The DOJ
should demand that UBS produce all 19,000 tax violators, not just
4,450, shut down all UBS business in the United States until there is
full compliance, and reopen an active criminal investigation into the
American and Swiss bankers who conspired to commit these crimes. It is
an insult to every honest taxpayer that while the whistleblower is in
jail, UBS and its American clients are getting away with hiding billions
of dollars of taxable income."
Dean A. Zerbe, co-counsel for Mr. Birkenfeld, said:
"The Obama administration put all its chips on a roll of the dice
and today with the rejection by the assembly in Switzerland they came up
snake-eyes. The Obama administration needs to show initiative and not
just sit and wait hoping for good news from Switzerland. The Obama
administration needs to be taking full advantage of the mountain of
information provided by the key whistleblower, Bradley Birkenfeld,
instead of letting it gather dust in government warehouses."
The vote is the latest development in the case of former UBS banker
Bradley Birkenfeld. In 2007, Mr. Birkenfeld became
the first Swiss banker to blow the whistle on American citizens using
secret Swiss bank accounts to violate U.S. tax and securities law. As a
direct result of his disclosures, UBS closed its North American
division (with approximately $20 billion dollars in assets), agreed to
pay the U.S. government a $780 million dollar fine, and agreed to turn
over the names of 4,450 account holders.
Throughout his disclosures to the DOJ, Mr. Birkenfeld warned that
Swiss politicians would stall and block the release of client names and
urged them to open a legitimate criminal investigation using the
detailed information he provided. Mr. Birkenfeld provided the DOJ with
detailed information that would have (and still could) permit them to
conduct a criminal investigation and identify the major UBS America
account holders. The Swiss Parliament will now try to reach a compromise
that would require UBS to turn over client information by August 20,
the deadline set by the deferred prosecution agreement between the DOJ
and UBS.
The U.S. Justice Department admitted in court proceedings that "but
for Mr. Birkenfeld" the illegal $20 billion tax evasion "scheme" by the
Swiss banking giant UBS "would not have been discovered by the U.S.
government." Despite his undisputed contribution toward enforcement of
tax laws, Mr. Birkenfeld was the only banker prosecuted by the U.S.
The National Whistleblowers Center urges all members of the public
to send letters in support of Mr. Birkenfeld's
clemency petition, which is pending before the Pardon Attorney.

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.