When Did UBS Whistle-Blower Bradley Birkenfeld Decide To Stick It To His Employers?

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Former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld is the guy widely credited with helping the authorities crack down on the less than legal activities at the Swiss bank vis-a-vis clients and their taxes. For his help exposing the tax evasion specialists, he's been rewarded with time in the big house, which is not how he'd predicted this whole thing would turn out. To the contrary, Brad and his big brain had assumed that not only would he do no time for his own wrong-doing (he had, after all, been one of those people helping clients keep some of their wealth on the hush-hush), but that he'd be looking at nice big check for a job well done signed by the Department of Justice. BUT WHY? Why did he go to the trouble of screwing the man, which involved a decent amount of effort when laying on the beach with a Thai hooker involves none? It probably had to do with the fact that he realized the man was going to screw him if he didn't make some moves first.

On Oct. 5, 2005, high-flying American banker Bradley Birkenfeld abruptly resigned his plum position in the Geneva office of Switzerland’s premier financial institution, UBS. The sole reason, he said, was his discovery of an internal document that, in his mind, revealed a calculated plan on the bank’s part to disown him, or any one of his fellow cross-border bankers, should the music suddenly stop in UBS’ dubious $20 billion dance with America’s most wealthy. The offending document was an internal brief from UBS Legal that cataloged cross-border banking activities illegal in the United States, where Birkenfeld and the other private bankers in UBS’ wealth management division routinely made regular prospecting trips for wealthy U.S.-resident clients. The rub was that – point by point – the list of prohibitions contradicted the fundamentals of Birkenfeld’s job description: No establishing of business relationships “for securities purposes” the document read; no “solicitation of account opening” or “cold calling or prospecting;" and no contacting U.S. clients by “telephone, mail, email, advertising, the internet or personal visits.” “I’m like, ‘Holy shit, this is a stick of dynamite!’” Birkenfeld said.

“It was a sandbag job,” Birkenfeld said. Though the document was dated November 2004, six months prior to Birkenfeld’s discovery of it, none of the U.S. cross-border bankers had been told to stop what they were doing, Birkenfeld said. Quite the contrary: There were constant encouragements to book “new money” during the U.S. trips. When Birkenfeld went to his boss and demanded an explanation, the boss brushed him off and Birkenfeld blew his stack. “I said, ‘I’ll fucking go outside with you right now. I want some answers and I want them now.’”

Of course, as is typical with these people, the boss completely evaded in the question, which only made Birks angrier. That's when this happened.

If Birkenfeld’s UBS bosses thought he would go quietly, they were wrong. Instead, he would gather a raft of damning UBS internal documents and fly to Washington, where he’d secretly arranged to meet with prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Unfortunately, as we now know, things didn't pan out as Brad thought they would but if you're thinking he regrets it all, you think wrong.

“They had never been able to crack this nut and I did it. I educated them,” he railed, dissing the DOJ team. Birkenfeld then suggested something more subtle: “I fucked so many politically powerful and wealthy people with this maneuver,” he said. “I was a whistle-blower, and they fucking hate that...I took on the biggest bank in the world and brought them down, and I took on the biggest government in the world and exposed their corruption, and I’m being rewarded with jail,” he said, squinting his deep blue eyes. Still, he added, “I would do it again.”

Just so you know.

Telling Swiss Secrets: A Reversal Of Fortune [GlobalPost]

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