A guest post from Dean Zerbe, senior policy analyst for the National Whistleblower Center and former tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee.
The Swiss bank whistleblower who outed Americans’ secret USB bank accounts says he has information on more wrongdoing. Bradley Birkenfeld, who is described on his website as the “worlds most celebrated whistleblower,” appeared at an offshore fraud and financial services conference in Miami in April. Birkenfeld was “treated like a celebrity,” reported journalist Brian Ross, who covered the event for Law & Crime Network, a legal website and streaming service.
The National Whistleblower Center supported Mr. Birkenfeld in his case, which involved a $20 billion tax evasion scheme.
More whistleblowing in the halls of Congress and other news of the week.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, issued a statement this week in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA).
“We honor the contributions of the brave men and women who report wrongdoing despite great risks to their careers and personal lives as a result of retaliation. Without the WPA, very few whistleblowers would be willing to come forward. Congress relies on the WPA to fulfill its Constitutional duty to provide checks and balances on the Executive Branch—the very root of our democracy.”
He noted the role of whistleblowers in the Committee’s investigation into reports of White House efforts to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
The Atlantic reported last week that “small army of whistle-blowers from across the government has been working in secret with the House Oversight Committee to report alleged malfeasance inside the Trump administration. Lawmakers and aides are reluctant to discuss information they have gleaned from anonymous government tipsters in detail. But the list of whistle-blowers who either currently or previously worked in the Trump administration, or who worked closely with the administration, numbers in the ‘dozens’,” according to an aide to Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.
NPR also reported on the anniversary of the WPA.
ROBERT MACLEAN: Everybody in my neighborhood and my family thought I was insane and I was fighting a futile fight.
…That’s how it felt for Robert MacLean, a federal air marshal who, in 2003, told the public that the TSA canceled air marshal coverage on long-haul flights to cover budget shortfalls.
Whistleblowers helped the IRS collect more than $1.4 billion in criminal fines, civil forfeitures, and reporting violations in fiscal year 2018, according to an agency report released Wednesday.
Of that record amount, more than $300 million went to IRS whistleblowers – an average of 21.7 percent of proceeds collected.That’s an increase from fiscal year 2017, when the average reward was 17 percent.
It was a record setting year in proceeds collected and award amounts paid, according to Lee D. Martin, director of the IRS Whistleblower Office. Since 2007, the program has made more than $800 million in whistleblower awards based on the collection of $5 billion.
In a written statement, Stephen M. Kohn, president of the National Whistleblower Center, called the report “the best news of the year for whistleblowers.” The IRS program is now working well, he wrote. “Whistleblowers who witness tax frauds will be encouraged to take the risk, and report the crimes. This is game changing.”
In February 2018, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, requiring the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to include penalties for Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) violations in calculating whistleblower awards. Prior to this statutory change being signed into law, FBAR violations were not included in the calculation of IRS whistleblower awards.…
On Friday, August 31, CBS News will air a segment featuring biofuels fraud whistleblower, Alex “Sasha” Chepurko on the season finale of Whistleblower. The episode, Case of “THE 100 Million Dollar Scam”, details Chepurko’s incredible story of blowing the whistle on a nationwide biofuels scam.…
Today, the U.S. Department of Justice officially dismissed their appeal of case Whistleblower 21276-13W and 21277-13W v. CIR, Case Nos. 17-1119 and 1120 (D.C. Cir.), marking a big win for IRS whistleblowers. Below is a statement from the whistleblowers’ attorneys.
The law firms of Zerbe, Miller, Fingeret, Frank & Jadav, PC (ZMF); Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto (KKC) and Robert Amsel, Esq. are pleased to announce today a key victory for tax whistleblowers with the filing of a joint stipulation for dismissal of the government’s appeal in the cases of Whistleblower 21276-13W and 21277-13W v. CIR, Case Nos. 17-1119 and 1120 (D.C. Cir.). The case was scheduled for oral argument on April 9, 2018 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It had pitted the U.S. Department of Justice and IRS against two whistleblowers whose information has led to $54.131 million in criminal penalties and civil forfeitures awarded against a major Swiss bank. The DOJ and IRS were arguing that the tax whistleblower law did not apply to criminal tax cases that resulted in payments of fines and civil forfeitures.
WASHINGTON, D.C. | MARCH 29, 2018—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today will dismiss an appeal filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) challenging the right of whistleblowers to obtain a financial reward based on disclosing information that results in the criminal prosecution of tax evaders. The case concerned a major international financial institution that was sanctioned for illegally assisting U.S. citizens in evading taxes. The IRS had initially denied an award to the two whistleblowers. The whistleblowers challenged the denial in Tax Court and prevailed. However, the DOJ and IRS challenged this finding in the Court of Appeals. Today, at the request of DOJ, that appeal will be dismissed, and the two whistleblowers will become the first persons to obtain an IRS whistleblower reward based on a criminal tax prosecution.
WASHINGTON, D.C. | February 9, 2018—The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, approved today by the U.S. Congress, included two key whistleblower-rights amendments initially introduced by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA). These amendments ensure that employees who blow the whistle on criminal tax fraudsters are covered under the IRS whistleblower law, and end the double-taxation of whistleblower awards under the Dodd-Frank Act.
Picture this: while at work you become aware of conduct that you believe is unethical, illegal, or qualifies as government waste, fraud, or abuse. You decide you want to blow the whistle. But before you act, be careful! Most corporate and government networks log traffic. Your work computer and phone are not private. When you use a company or department computer, assume everything you do is monitored. These computers are an easy way for your employer to determine you are the whistleblower.