After Sending UBS Whistle-blower to Prison, IRS Gives Him $104 Million

Birkenfeld on the day he was sentenced to 40 months in prison. Photo: Joe Raedle/2009 Getty Images

In 2007, former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld filled in the IRS on schemes the bank used to help its American clients avoid paying taxes, leading to a massive crackdown on Swiss tax havens. The bank paid $780 million to avoid prosecution, and the IRS recovered $5 billion through an amnesty program set up for wealthy tax cheats. The New York Times reports that to show their appreciation, the IRS is giving Birkenfeld $104 million, the largest sum ever awarded through an agency program offering whistle-blowers a percentage of the money it recovers. The move is meant to encourage others to come forward, though the two and a half years Birkenfeld spent in prison after he was charged with fraud for withholding information may give potential whistle-blowers pause.