(Wall Street Journal) Jailed whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld will detail his role in exposing widespread tax evasion in the Swiss banking industry in a clemency request he plans to make to President Barack Obama on Thursday.
Birkenfeld, 45, began serving a 40-month sentence in January for his role in helping wealthy Americans evade taxes. He was formerly a banker at UBS AG (UBS).
The clemency petition states that Birkenfeld “came forth with hundreds of internal documents recording the illegal actions of UBS and U.S. taxpayers” and that he travelled to the U.S. numerous times to meet with government agencies.
Birkenfeld’s trips to the U.S. from Switzerland were “at his own expense and risk to his life,” and included meetings with the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Senate, the former banker says in the petition.
The National Whistleblowers Center in Washington, D.C., is organizing a worldwide letter-writing campaign in support of the bid for clemency. The official petition will be filed with President Obama and the Office of the Pardon Attorney on April 15, the U.S. deadline to file income tax returns.
Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center and an attorney for Birkenfeld, said it is critical that Obama “send a message that whistleblowers are welcome in the United States.” He can do that, Kohn added, by granting Birkenfeld his freedom.
Birkenfeld is serving his sentence at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institute in Minersville, Pa.