Man receives a $104 million via the whistleblower protection law


While most businesses are operated ethically, a few are not. When that happens, the business' employees may have to speak up. New Jersey residents in such a situation may be interested to hear about a banker at UBS who relied on a whistleblower protection law when he brought to light how the bank helped customers evade taxes.

The banker told authorities, including the Justice Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and even the United States Senate how UBS helped numerous wealthy Americans skirt their taxes. Because of that information, the banker received a whistleblower award in the amount of $104 million, a record payout.

Likely as a result of the banker's disclosures , UBS paid $780 million in order to avoid prosecution. UBS also admitted to fostering tax evasion and provided the government with data from thousands of Swiss and offshore bank accounts. Since UBS turned over that information, the IRS has collected over $5 billion from at least 33,000 U.S. citizens.

It was not all fun and games for the whistleblower though. A year after bringing UBS activities to the attention of federal authorities, the whistleblower pled guilty to conspiracy. He was finally released in August.

Like the UBS banker, New Jersey residents who notice their employers violating the law often can blow the whistle on the behavior under certain federal and state laws. For example, at least seven major federal laws contain whistleblower protections for employees who bring to light environmental, health and safety hazards caused by an employer. Employees who rely on these statutes are protected from retaliation, even if authorities ultimately conclude that the employer was in compliance with the law.

Source:, "UBS Whistle-Blower Birkenfeld Secures $104 Million IRS Award," Tom Schoenberg and David Voreacos, Sept. 11, 2012