Minersville, PA. January 8, 2010. At 2 pm today UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld surrendered to U.S. authorities and commenced serving a three-year and four-month sentence at the Schuylkill County Federal Correctional Institution in Minersville, Pennsylvania.
Stephen M. Kohn, the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center and one of Mr. Birkenfeld’s attorneys issued the following statement:
“An American tragedy. A disgraceful miscarriage of justice. An insult to every honest American who must work hard and pay their taxes. The imprisonment of Bradley Birkenfeld, the most important tax whistleblower in history, is shocking and unjustified. This decision is not only grossly unfair and personally harmful to Mr. Birkenfeld, it will also have a radical chilling effect on the willingness of other bankers to step forward and expose fraud. This is devastating to any efforts to expose the use of illegal offshore bank accounts by criminals who want to avoid taxes.”
“After a careful investigation, we have now demonstrated that the justifications provided by the Justice Department for this unprecedented act of retaliation against a whistleblower were not true. Justice Department lawyers misled the public and a court in justifying their reasons for indicting Mr. Birkenfeld and asking the Court to sentence him to a long prison term.”
“Mr. Birkenfeld’s 40-month sentence is a direct result of blowing the whistle on one of the largest tax fraud schemes in U.S. history, which has resulted in UBS bank paying a $780 million penalty to the United States, and over 14,000 “taxpayers” voluntarily disclosing their illegal offshore accounts. Mr. Birkenfeld’s disclosures have resulted in a multi-billion dollar net-gain to American taxpayers, and have forced UBS bank to shut down a massive illegal offshore banking practice. He is a hero, not a criminal. He did the right thing in voluntarily stepping forward and exposing these massive frauds. He deserves our thanks and praise, not the terrible fate that awaits him in prison.”
“We are asking every person who wants to stop illegal offshore banking that results in over $100 billion in tax losses per/year to the United States to TAKE ACTION and write to the Attorney General, asking that the Justice Department’s decision to imprison Mr. Birkenfeld be reconsidered.”
Dean Zerbe, co-counsel for Mr. Birkenfeld, stated: “This is a sad day for Brad and his family. A tragedy for the honest American taxpayers who will shoulder higher taxes because a generation of tax whistleblowers will be discouraged from coming forward.”
The National Whistleblower Center, through its TAKE ACTION advocacy program, is urging people to contact the Attorney General and request that the Birkenfeld case be reviewed and the decision to imprison him be reconsidered.