Banker Goes From Jail to Winning $104 Million Whistleblower Reward

Bradley Birkenfield, a former Swiss banker, will receive a $104 million whistleblower reward from the IRS for providing the U.S. government with details concerning his former bank, UBS AG, and their offshore banking activities.

Birkenfield’s lawyers announced the award today, one even stating, “Today is a great day for tax fairness … Today is a terrible day for big-time tax cheats."

Ironically, Birkenfield was recently released from prison after more than two years and is currently under house arrest for helping a former client evade U.S. tax collectors. He was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The Legal Times reported on the consequences of Birkenfield’s recent exposure:

Birkenfeld's disclosures also led to the collection of more than $5 billion in back taxes, penalties and fines, as well as the names of more than 4,900 U.S. taxpayers who held offshore UBS accounts, according to the National Whistleblowers Center.

The IRS whistleblower program gives informants a percentage of the money the U.S. recovers after fraud is discovered. IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge stated:

The IRS believes that the whistleblower statute provides a valuable tool to combat tax non-compliance, and this award reflects our commitment to the law.

Lesson learned: whistle-blowing is only okay if you expose things that favor the U.S. government. And it doesn’t matter who you are — a former crook or whoever — but if you got good info., you’ll be rewarded big time.

AlterNet / By Alyssa Figueroa

Posted at September 11, 2012, 5:07pm