Whistleblower Disclosures Result in Historic International Treaty
Washington D.C. June 17, 2010. In an unprecedented move the Swiss parliament voted to approve a deal between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and UBS in which UBS has agreed to turn over the names of 4,450 U.S. citizens who held secret and illegal bank accounts at UBS.
Lindsey M. Williams, Director of Advocacy and Development of the National Whistleblowers Center, said:
“Today’s news is bittersweet. While the Swiss government will finally be releasing the names, the outcome is far from a fairytale ending for taxpayers. The agreement with UBS was only for a small portion of the names of tax cheats and the fine was a drop in the bucket compared to the entire $20 billion dollar illegal program. In order to overcome the damage done by the Department of Justice’s prosecution of the whistleblower, Bradley Birkenfeld, the IRS and President Obama should follow the intent of the law and issue Mr. Birkenfeld his reward and immediately commute his prison sentence.”
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center and attorney for Bradley Birkenfeld, said:
“Bradley Birkenfeld is the most important fraud whistleblower in American history resulting in one of the largest collections ever, but the deal cut with UBS permits the majority of violators to get off scot-free. The message from the Birkenfeld case should have been: if you illegally shelter the money you will get caught, if you turn in fraud you will be rewarded. Instead, the message being sent by the Justice Department and UBS is clear: if you get caught your wrist will be mildly slapped, if you turn it the fraud you will go to jail.”
Dean Zerbe, co-counsel for Mr. Birkenfeld said, “Getting the swiss to agree to release the names is taking more dance steps then Fred Astaire. Clearly going forward the answer has to be for the IRS to work with whistleblowers and the information they provide and not wait for the swiss to finish their tap dancing.”
The National Whistleblowers Center urges all members of the public to send letters in supportof Mr. Birkenfeld’s clemency petition, which is pending before the Pardon Attorney.