When they weren’t drafting crazy dress codes in the late 2000′s, financial giant UBS was busy helping its customers hide money from the Internal Revenue Service as part of an institutional fraud policy that defrauded the government out of an estimated $5 billion dollars in tax money. One of the company’s assets was a guy named Bradley Birkenfeld, who went to prison in 2008 after copping a plea bargain and telling the IRS and Justice Department just how UBS did its dirty deeds while admitting to helping businessman Igor Olenicoff hide $200 million in assets and avoid $7.6 million in taxes. Doing good, even once you’re caught by the fuzz, is helpful; UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld got $104 million in award money for his help in stopping tax cheats.
“The IRS sent 104 million messages to whistle-blowers around the world — that there is now a safe and secure way to report tax fraud,” said the National Whistleblowers Center. “The IRS also sent 104 million messages to banks around the world – stop enabling tax cheats or you will get caught.”
The $104 million is the largest whistleblower award ever given to a single person. It’s also the first whistleblower award given to someone by the IRS. UBS agreed to pay a $780-million-dollar fine to the government for its fraud scheme, so it’s not like Birkenfeld didn’t earn his money even before the government collected the billions of dollars of tax money it was owed by UBS customers.
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