An article written by Bradley Birkenfeld appears in the Spring 2010 issue of the World Policy Journal, released by the World Policy Institute. The “Crime + Corruption” issue examines how corruption occurs, its effect on society, and how to stop it. Birkenfeld’s article, “Inside the Cartel,” is displayed in the “Upfront” section of the journal, which gives readers first-hand insight into corruption schemes across the globe.
“Inside the Cartel” takes a look into the depths of the Swiss banking industry, explaining the history that led to the development of its notorious secretive practices and culture. Mr. Birkenfeld writes about his time at UBS, where he uncovered a multi-billion dollar tax evasion scheme and exposed it to the U.S. government. Although his disclosures were unprecedented, Mr. Birkenfeld was indicted and ultimately sentenced to 40 months in federal prison.
Mr. Birkenfeld wrote:
Future financial whistleblowers deserve infinitely better treatment than I received. They deserve to be praised and protected, not prosecuted. And truth-tellers should not have to choose their conscience over their career and especially over their very freedom.
Mr. Birkenfeld explained how the U.S. Deparment of Justice treatment of whistleblowers has implications far beyond his “personal situation.”
The American taxpayers are not the only ones disadvantaged as a result of this illegal scheme. This corruption and secrecy takes money from many government endeavors that are used to fund humanitarian projects and aid developing countries.
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“Inside the Cartel” by Bradley Birkenfeld
* Philip Barrett (NWC intern) and Meryl Grenadier (NWC Fellow) contributed to this post.