1. Birkenfeld is adamant that his prison sentence is unfair when compared to the fact that no one else (e.g., Olenicoff or UBS bankers) went to jail. Does he have a point?
2. Why did UBS elect to settle with the U.S. government?
3. Given that there was an immunity agreement in place, what did the Justice Department gain from prosecuting Birkenfeld?
4. Critics are concerned that Birkenfeld’s prison sentence will discourage other tax whistle-blowers from coming forward. Is that a valid concern? Why or why not?
Bradley Birkenfeld was born in the Boston area but spent the last decade of his professional banking career in Geneva, Switzerland, as a personal banker for wealthy American clients of Swiss banking giant UBS. He has achieved notoriety in the financial services industry as the whistle-blower of the largest tax fraud case in history. As a result of evidence he provided, his former employer, UBS, paid a $780 million fine, agreed to modify its international banking practices, and turned over the account records of 4,450 American account holders who, the IRS believed, were actively seeking to evade their U.S. tax obligations.