UBS bank whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld spoke with the Wall Street Journal‘s Arden Dale in a story released Friday. The WSJ story, "UBS Whistle-Blower Rues the Tack, Not Tune," appears on page C-2 of today’s Money and Investing section. Birkenfeld says that he would still want to expose the way UBS helped thousands of millionaires evade their taxes, but he would do it differently. The interview is a lesson for how other tax whistleblowers might want to proceed in the future. The article recognizes that Birkenfeld was "the central informant in an investigation that led to a wide-ranging IRS crackdown on secret offshore bank accounts." He is also the only figure in the case sentenced to substantial prison time, 40 months. Birkenfeld attorney, Stephen M. Kohn (who is also Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center), explained to Dale how going to the Department of Justice was a mistake. One of their jobs, after all, is to put people in jail. Kohn says that tax whistleblowers should instead consider going to the whistleblower office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). That office would be more focused on using the whistleblower’s information to collect taxes. It is also the office that will decide on financial rewards for whistleblowers. Federal officials declined to talk to Dale for this story.
Meanwhile, Reuters is running a story called, "Special Report: How the U.S. cracked open secret vaults at UBS." A U.S. government attorney involved in the case did speak to Reuters, and their story barely mentions Birkenfeld, and then only to mention his participation in UBS’ crimes before he decided to cooperate with U.S. authorities. The Reuters story misses how Birkenfeld asked the Department of Justice to issue a subpoena to him to allow him to name all the names. That’s why we bought the Wall Street Journal on Friday.
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