Ex-UBS employee to begin prison term

6 January 2010

A banker previously employed by UBS will begin a prison sentence after a leniency motion was rejected by a judge in the US.

Bradley Birkenfeld filed a petition to the federal court claiming that his role as whistleblower, which helped expose fraud committed by Swiss bank UBS, entitled him to a lesser sentence than the three year prison term he received.

However, Judge William Zloch refused to accept the defendant’s appeal for leniency meaning the bank’s former employee will need to report to jail by January 8th.

Mr Birkenfeld helped expose 19,000 UBS clients who invested an estimated $13.5 billion in a number of secret Swiss accounts.

He pleaded guilty to helping California billionaire Igor Olenicoff and a number of others evade taxes.

Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington and the former banker's attorney, told Bloomberg: “It’s a setback for whistleblowers everywhere.”

“It just undermines the public interest that thousands of major tax cheats all escape any prosecution, and the one person who turned it in gets the longest sentence.”

The bank agreed to pay a $780 million fine in February 2009 and revealed the names of approximately 150 clients.

By Jim Ottewill

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