There are few things people won’t do for money. Would prison be one of them for you? What if a multimillion dollar payday awaited your return? That’s the exact situation faced by a UBS Securities whistleblower who unveiled the Swiss banking secrets that have been guarded for decades. While he may not have known going in that he was facing jail time by the time all was said and done, this mid-level banker, originally from the US, working for UBS in Switzerland stands to gain tens of millions of dollars given US Whistleblower guidelines allowing for a portion of the amount recovered to go to the whistleblower in return for their assistance in recovering money for the US government.
There’s a detailed account of the story on 60 minutes, but in summary:
- US has never been able to penetrate Swiss Banking veil of secrecy – thousands of Americans have been avoiding Billions in taxes for decades.
- ~19,000 clients with $19Billion in holdings.
- Bradley Birkenfeld, a UBS banker, approached the US as a whistleblower and shared everything from how many Americans were hiding taxes overseas to total amounts and how they did it.
- In some cases, he would act almost as a high-priced shopper, buying diamonds and other expensive artifacts and smuggling them into the US for his clients when they wanted to cash in on some of their Swiss account holdings.
- As a result of his information, the US has netted Billions of dollars in tax revenues they wouldn’t have otherwise.
- As a result of this case, 14,700 Americans came forward to voluntarily declare their tax liabilities in exchange for amnesty from prosecution.
- Unfortunately, at the same time Birkenfeld was coming forward, the Justice Department was investigating one of his clients for tax fraud. While his client did no jail time after paying a hefty fine, Birkenfeld was charged.
- Of the thousands of people that hid taxes and performed similar roles as Birkenfeld, he is the single person being charged with a crime in the whole scenario.
- Birkenfeld sentenced to 40 months prison time for his role with the particular client – the government claims he wasn’t transparent enough about his role early on.
- However, he is still likely to receive a massive whistleblower payout. The check will be sent to the prison housing him at the time the award is determined. It’s not clear what the exact amount would be, but it’s in the tens of millions of dollars.
Birkenfeld is young enough that he will certainly be able to enjoy the money. The question is whether it will have been worth it in the end. For a typical American, even a mid-level Swiss banker, this kind of money would ensure lifetime security and remove the necessity to ever work again.
- This is the type of generational wealth this banker never would have been able to attain in his current role.
- Perhaps he could translate this experience into some sort of positive, like other white collar criminals and regain his honor.
- However, what will he endure in prison? Prison is no walk in the park. Even if he survives unscathed, surely he’ll regret the black mark on his name for his remaining years.
- I’m not sure what kind of family he has, but would this cost him his marriage? If not, will it be difficult to find a mate later in life with this conviction?
That brings us to the question:
Would you do 40 months jail time for $20 Million?
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