Former banker wants big bucks

He blew the whistle on shady practices at UBS -- and went to jail. Should he get billions?

By Kim Peterson Nov 30, 2009 3:10PM
I'm fascinated by the case of Bradley Birkenfeld, the former UBS banker who helped rich people avoid taxes by stashing their money offshore.

Birkenfeld blew the whistle on UBS, voluntarily approaching federal prosecutors with lots of details on how the bank diverted money. Birkenfeld wasn't given immunity for his story, however, and so he was charged and pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government.

Now, in jail for several more years, Birkenfeld is trying to get several billion dollars in reward money for his whistle-blowing, The New York Times reports.

And experts tell the Times that he's got a pretty good case.

He gave prosecutors good information, which ultimately led to UBS admitting to criminal wrongdoing and agreeing to pay a $780 million fine.

Could the IRS have ferreted out the case without him? Hard to tell. It definitely would have been much harder.

So now this guy's in jail -- as he should be, since he did break the law. But when he gets out, should he have billions waiting for him?

The IRS is offering whistle-blowers a reward of 15% to 30% of the taxes, fines and other money it collects in cases of tax dodging. But it won't give the money to anyone who was "planning" or "initiating" the fraud, the Times reports.

Birkenfeld wouldn't get any percentage of money recovered from his own clients. Instead, he wants a chunk of the accounts that he described to the IRS and the Justice Department.

The IRS is a little squeamish about this, saying that Birkenfeld didn't give any actual names or account numbers. Instead, he provided information about the behind-the-scenes workings at the bank.

0Comments

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

STOCK SCOUTER

StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

114
114 rated 1
278
278 rated 2
474
474 rated 3
641
641 rated 4
639
639 rated 5
663
663 rated 6
640
640 rated 7
499
499 rated 8
284
284 rated 9
122
122 rated 10
12345678910

Top Picks

SYMBOLNAMERATING
COPCONOCOPHILLIPS9
TAT&T Inc9
VZVERIZON COMMUNICATIONS9
KOGKODIAK OIL & GAS Corp9
CVXCHEVRON CORPORATION8
More

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

ABOUT

Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.