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Offshore account whistleblower gets prosecuted himself but reaps millions in reward money

Journalist Sharyl Attkisson interviewed Brad Birkenfeld on her "Full Measure" television program.

Published: May 3, 2020 3:35pm

Updated: May 3, 2020 4:51pm

Brad Birkenfeld once worked for Swiss bank UBS managing the offshore funds of rich people, but when he blew the whistle on tax evaders in 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice reacted with what he describes as "hostility."

Birkenfeld said that the offshore accounts allowed people to dodge paying taxes. He revealed 19,000 offshore accounts totaling $20 billion in assets, but himself was prosecuted by the DOJ, according to journalist Sharyl Attkisson, who interviewed Birkenfeld on her "Full Measure" television program.

"The Justice Department used the information Birkenfeld provided as a whistleblower to prosecute him," Attkisson reported in today's installment of her program. "He served two and a half years in prison while most of the tax evaders he exposed got off scott-free."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009 negotiated a settlement with UBS for the bank to pay $780 million and provide 4,700 tax evaders' names. Attkisson requested the list of those names, but the DOJ would not provide it.

"It was the largest bank in the world that I exposed, now I'm exposing the largest government in the world, the Department of Justice, for their corruption," Birkenfeld said. "So I think you have a little bit of cover-up but you also have incompetence as well at the DOJ."

Birkenfeld was awarded for blowing the whistle, earning a percentage of recovered funds. He said he received more than $100 million, which amounted to about "$75 million and change" post-tax.

"I don't need the money," Birkenfeld said. "I don't need any attention. This is about showing the American people, why does it take an individual to hold our government accountable? That's really the question here. And if you don't do it then we have a lawless society. What's the sense of having laws if you don't enforce them?"

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