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Swiss bank tipster gets record $104 million reward from IRS
Bradley Birkenfeld, a former banker at the Swiss banking giant UBS, received a record-setting reward of $104 million from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for blowing the whistle on the bank’s systematic efforts to woo wealthy Americans investors and then help them evade taxes.
Birkenfeld’s revelations resulted in UBS paying a $780 million fine to the US government, and the recovery of more than $5 billion from American taxpayers took part in the IRS’s amnesty programme to avoid criminal charges for their own offshore tax evasion. Birkenfeld participated in the UBS scheme (he served jail time and is now under house arrest).
His insider disclosures led the IRS to other UBS bankers who had persuaded wealthy Americans to place $20 billion of assets in UBS in order to facilitate tax evasion that boosted those clients’ returns. The IRS has charged two dozen offshore bankers and 50 American taxpayers with crimes, and at least 11 banks are still under criminal investigation.
The record payout to Birkenfeld is part of the IRS Whistleblower programme that provides a substantial financial incentive, up to 30 per cent of the taxes recovered, to encourage tipsters to come forward with information about tax evasion.
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