Bradley Birkenfeld, who revealed the role of Swiss bank UBS in helping Americans evade taxes, is suing Kevin Costner and cosmetics billionaire Leonard Lauder for damaging the sales of his tell-all book.
Birkenfeld allegesexternal link that his publisher was forced to remove references to Costner and Lauder (and his mother Josephine Esther “Estée” Lauder) in his book Lucifer’s Banker under the threat of legal action.
The book manuscript claimed that both Costner and Lauder had secret, offshore, undeclared numbered bank account at UBS Switzerland. Costner allegedly had $20 million (CHF20 million) stashed away while Lauder was referenced as a friend of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a regular contributor to her political campaign.
The suit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida claims that removal of the names from the book “substantially diminished the newsworthiness and global sales of Lucifer’s Banker” and resulted in direct and indirect costs. Birkenfeld has demanded damages of $75,000, in addition to costs and interest.
Representatives of Costner and Lauder deny the allegations. UBS did not wish to comment on the matter when contacted by swissinfo.ch. Birkenfeld also declined to comment on the case.
Birkenfeld received a $104 million reward from the United States authorities after helping to bring down Swiss banking secrecy. He also served a 30-month US prison term for failing to reveal all he knew to investigators. His actions resulted in UBS entering in early 2009 into a deferred prosecution agreement and paying $780 million in fines, penalties, interest and restitution.