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UBS whistle-blower begins jail term in US

A former UBS banker who provided key assistance in the United States’ tax evasion probe of the Swiss banking giant reported to prison on Friday.

Bradley Birkenfeld, who handled wealthy American UBS clients from 2001 to 2006, pleaded guilty in June 2008 to a single count of conspiracy to defraud the US and was sentenced to more than three years in prison.

The 44 year old said his cooperation exposed "the largest tax fraud in the world" and should have earned him the federal government’s gratitude and not time behind bars.

"I think it's an injustice," Birkenfeld said as he reported to a federal prison to begin his sentence. "I'm a proud American who did the best I could for my country and this is how they reward me."

Birkenfeld admitted helping clients hide hundreds of millions of dollars and evade US taxes. His sentence has drawn criticism from whistle-blower advocates as too harsh.

UBS last year paid a $780 million (SFr806.5 million) fine to the US and agreed to turn over the names of 4,450 suspected tax dodgers.

Birkenfeld began providing inside information to US authorities in 2007, describing how UBS helped rich Americans hide income from the IRS.

The former banker filed a complaint earlier this week against prosecutors, accusing them of making false statements to the federal judge who sentenced him to prison.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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