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(CNS Business): The man who blew the whistle on a massive tax evasion scam that cost the US government billions in lost revenue has been awarded US$104 million by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Brad Birkenfeld was an executive at Swiss banking giant UBS AG in Zurich in 2007 when he approached the IRS with information that served as the basis for a landmark court case that saw UBS pay a US$780 million settlement and turn over details on thousands of US holders of offshore accounts. The massive payout is understood to be the largest such reward to an individual ever made.
Ironically, Birkenfeld, now 47, having exposed thousands of Swiss bank account tax cheats, including well-known actors, politicians, and sports figures, was the only person to go to prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to evade taxes.
Birkenfeld, who also confessed to smuggling diamonds hidden in a tube of toothpaste for a client, was a key witness in US prosecutors' case against UBS.
"It's the height of hypocrisy if the US is one day sentencing the guy to 40 months in prison and the next give him the highest reward," Pirmin Bischof of the centre-right Christian Democrats and a member of parliament's upper house told Reuters.
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