UBS Whistleblower Chronicles the Demise of Swiss Banking Secrecy

In 2012, Bradley Birkenfeld made history when he obtained the largest whistleblower reward ever given to an individual whistleblower in the twenty-five year history of federal qui tam or whistleblower reward laws, for reporting IRS Tax Fraud. 

This month the former international banker and wealth manager with UBS, released the book Lucifer’s Banker: The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy.  Lucifer’s Banker chronicles Mr. Birkenfeld’s journey as he took on the Swiss banking industry and his disturbing account of being prosecuted by the Department of Justice and sent to jail. Though jailed for 30 months, he was vindicated when he received the record-breaking $104 million IRS reward.

The former UBS banker’s disclosures of illegal offshore Swiss banking resulted in over $5 billion recovered for U.S. taxpayers. His information forced Switzerland to change its international treaty with the United States and its largest bank was forced to turn over the names of over 4,900 U.S. citizens who held illegal offshore accounts.

In a 2014 speech, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen explained the impact of Mr. Birkenfeld’s contributions reached much further than the 780 million dollar fine UBS received. According to Commissioner Koskinen, “Since 2009, these programs have resulted in more than 43,000 voluntary disclosures from individuals who paid more than $6 billon in back taxes, interest, and penalties, and the numbers continue to rise.”

In a recent interview with Ben Feldheim of MEL Magazine, Mr. Birkenfeld credits Stephen Kohn and Dean Zerbe, attorneys he hired to work on his whistleblower reward claim. “These guys are a dynamic duo. They understand the law. They’ve testified in front of Congress. They’ve written books. They’ve fought cases in the tax court,” he told MEL.

Kohn and Zerbe filed a claim through the IRS Whistleblower Program to secure Mr. Birkenfeld’s reward which was based on the recovered tax money he helped the government uncover.

Mr. Birkenfeld plans to help other potential whistleblowers, telling MEL “I’ll gladly talk to anyone who finds themselves in a similar predicament to mine, whether they are individuals or they represent governments. It can be anonymous.”

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