As of Saturday, former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld is a free man. Following 30 months’ imprisonment and a three-year probation period, he is now free to leave the United States.
Birkenfeld had provided US tax authorities with information about the illegal activities of Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, and its US customers, but was sentenced to 40 months of jail and three years of probation in 2009 for failing to divulge everything he knew about the bank’s tax dodging customers.
Although he was incarcerated, Birkenfeld received a $104 million (CHF97 million at the time) reward from the US government. He was released from jail after 2.5 years for good behaviour, but was required to remain in the US for three years.
According to Birkenfeld’s lawyer, his client plans to head for Europe to “rebuild his life and become a valuable member of society”.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) acknowledged that Birkenfeld’s testimony was crucial in uncovering tax evasion offences that cost UBS $780 million in fines.
The ensuing investigations led to a major dispute between Switzerland and the United States and to the end of Swiss banking secrecy.
swissinfo.ch and agencies