NWC Responds to Misleading Department of Justice Press Release
Statement by NWC Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) press release crediting their efforts to prosecute Bradley Birkenfeld with increasing tax compliance is the very definition of the word ‘chutzpah.’ Prosecuting the whistleblower does not encourage more people to come forward and provide information on tax fraud.
The DOJ press release is contradictory and outrageous. You cannot talk out of one side of your mouth, trumpeting the imprisonment of the most important tax whistleblower in history, and then out of the other side ask employees to risk their career and their very freedom to step forward with information about tax fraud.
The DOJ spends much ink describing the importance of the UBS case without finding the space to add two more words – the name of the whistleblower who made it all possible – Bradley Birkenfeld. The treatment of Mr. Birkenfeld is not only a generational setback for tax whistleblowers, it will cost the American taxpayers billions of dollars.
The Department of Justice included the following statement which we find particularly ironic, bordering on fraudulent:
As the UBS matter has generated tremendous publicity and strong forward momentum against bank secrecy worldwide, the Division’s strategic successes have delivered an unmistakable message to all taxpayers that the days of hiding offshore funds from tax collection are over.
In reality, the DOJ’s decision to prosecute the very person who provided them information on UBS has created the exact opposite publicity. Now all foreign bankers know that they should continue to hide from the Department and protect their tax cheating clients or they themselves will face prosecution. The DOJ’s actions have created a chilling effect against any potential tax whistleblowers who would want to help the U.S. government uncover tax fraud.
In addition, the DOJ failed to mention that the architect of the entire UBS illegal offshore tax fraud program, Martin Liechti, was allowed to return to the safety of Switzerland without prosecution. The DOJ not only did not credit Mr. Birkenfeld with disclosure of the scandal, it actively prosecuted him. In other words, the bad guy was let go and the good guy is in jail. This is not justice.
We call upon President Obama to immediately fix this injustice by pardoning Mr. Birkenfeld or commuting his sentence to time-served.
For more information on Mr. Birkenfeld’s case including supporting documentation please click here.