National Whistleblowers Center Concerned That The Treatment of Mr. Birkenfeld Will Discourage Future Whistleblowers
Washington, D.C. August 21, 2009. 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.
For media coverage and background information on Bradley Birkenfeld click here.
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”
Mr. 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.”