The US Department of Justice Mishandled Birkenfeld Case Costing Taxpayers Billions
Washington, D.C. February 4, 2010. According to Time Magazine , German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaüble announced on Tuesday that the German government has agreed to buy a CD from an anonymous informant that contains the details of up to 1,500 people who are suspected of holding secret bank accounts in Switzerland and evading German taxes.
In statements released today by the National Whistleblowers Center, Director of Advocacy Lindsey M. Williams said, “Germany should be applauded for their efforts to combat banking secrecy that steals tax revenue from developed countries and hides development money from the world’s poorest countries.”
UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld has yet to receive a monetary reward for the billions of dollars that the U.S. government has recovered as a result of his disclosures. Instead, Mr. Birkenfeld is currently serving a 40-month prison term. It is no mystery why the next banking whistleblower anonymously approached a different country and asked for his/her reward upfront.
The U.S. Department of Justice mishandled the Birkenfeld case by ignoring the information he gave them on how to obtain the names and account information of all the tax cheats. Instead, the DOJ negotiated a deal with the Swiss government for a small portion of the names (4,450 out of 19,500). The Swiss government recently announced that it will not be handing over the 4,500 names and may seek to renegotiate the deal.
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center, said, “The Justice Department botched this case. They could have worked with Birkenfeld to get the names, and are instead now left holding the bag. The deal UBS made with U.S. Government was in bad faith, and is letting the vast majority of U.S. citizens with illegal offshore accounts escape without any accountability or punishment. The German government is doing this right – instead of throwing the whistleblower in prison, they are working with the whistleblower to solve the problem. “
Dean Zerbe, Special Counsel at the National Whistleblowers Center, added, “While the Germans are putting out all the beer and schnitzel they can to encourage whistleblowers to come forward, senior officials in Washington D.C. seem bound and determined to offer nothing but bologna sandwiches. It is the honest taxpayers in this country that are the losers from this policy.”
The National Whistleblowers Center is asking people to TAKE ACTION by requesting a commutation of sentence for Mr. Birkenfeld.