Qui Tam Whistleblower Receives $104-Million Award

RSS Feed

The long, strange journey of former UBS-AG investment banker and qui tam relator Bradley Birkenfeld has reached a resolution, with Birkenfeld being awarded a $104-million payment for his role in providing the IRS with evidence of as many as 4,000 individuals’ tax evasion. The nine-figure award (or “bounty” in qui tam jargon) is believed to be the largest ever of its kind. While relator bounties of up to $100,000 are not uncommon, the $104 million to be paid to Birkenfeld is several orders of magnitude greater than the norm, a function of the substantial value of the information provided by Birkenfeld.

The evidence that Birkenfeld provided to the government resulted in UBS paying upwards of $780 million to settle criminal charges involving secret offshore accounts and being forced to turn over the account information of thousands of alleged tax evaders. Additionally, the publicity surrounding this case is thought to have been a factor in prompting more than 33,000 U.S. taxpayers to voluntarily come forward and admit to having offshore accounts. The IRS has been able to collect more than $5 billion in fees and penalties from these mass confessions.

Birkenfeld’s much-covered saga (most major news outlets have covered the story) is not without a darker controversial side, as he was released from federal prison only last month after serving a two-and-a-half year felony sentence for conspiracy in connection with the same tax evasion as to which he provided evidence.