Whistleblower could make $5 billion … in jail


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Bradley Birkenfeld turned in thousands of people for trying to evade paying taxes in the United States. But he was sentenced in August 2009 to three years and four months in jail for inciting UBS clients to commit tax fraud.

Birkenfeld told CBS on Sunday he felt he had been badly treated after he denounced 19,000 UBS clients who were said to have invested about 20 billion Swiss francs ($A15.05 billion) in secret Swiss accounts.

“I’m the only one going to prison. Out of 19,000 accounts and no Swiss bankers,” he said.

“I gave them the biggest tax fraud case in the world. I exposed 19,000 international criminals. And I’m going to jail for that?”

But one of his lawyers, Stephen Kohn, told the US television channel that Birkenfeld could have the last laugh, as under federal laws he may be entitled to up to 30 per cent of any taxes recovered by the US tax service.

According to prosecutors, the Internal Revenue Service could recoup several billion dollars in lost taxes.

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