UBS Whistle-Blower Birkenfeld Released From U.S. Prison

Bradley Birkenfeld, the former UBS AG (UBSN) banker who blew the whistle on how the bank helped thousands of Americans evade taxes, was released today from the U.S. prison in Minersville, Pennsylvania, according to his lawyer.

Birkenfeld, 47, began serving a 40-month sentence in January 2010 at Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution, and received good-time credit that reduced his term, said his attorney, Stephen M. Kohn. His brother, Douglas, drove him to a halfway house in New Hampshire, said Kohn.

Birkenfeld told U.S. authorities how UBS bankers came to the U.S. to woo rich Americans, managed $20 billion of their assets, and helped them cheat the Internal Revenue Service. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2008, a year after reporting the bank’s conduct to the Justice Department, U.S. Senate, IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission.

“He’s very happy to be out,” Kohn said. “He’s a fighter and he wants to continue charging on the Swiss bank scandal.”

Douglas Birkenfeld said in an e-mail today that his brother wasn’t granting interviews.

Birkenfeld was a banker at Zurich-based UBS for five years. Birkenfeld is seeking a reward from the IRS of as much as 30 percent of any taxes the agency recovers as a result of his whistleblowing activities.

UBS avoided prosecution in the U.S. by agreeing to pay $780 million, disclosing data on more than 250 Swiss accounts, and admitting it helped foster tax evasion. It later agreed to hand over data on another 4,450 accounts. Since Birkenfeld’s disclosures, at least 33,000 Americans have voluntarily disclosed offshore accounts to the IRS.

The case is U.S. v. Birkenfeld, 08-cr-60099, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).

To contact the reporter on this story: David Voreacos in Newark, New Jersey at dvoreacos@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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