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Clemency Sought for UBS Bank Whistleblower

MANHATTAN (CN) - Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges on Tax Day against seven UBS clients who allegedly hid more than $100 million in Swiss bank accounts. Two men pleaded guilty and were fined. Also Thursday, the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense and Education Fund asked President Obama to grant clemency to Bradley Birkenfeld, a former UBS banker who was sentenced to 40 months in prison after he exposed the UBS scheme to the feds.

Of the newly charged UBS bankers and clients, Jules Robbins and Federico Hernandez agreed to pay civil penalties of $20.8 million and $4.4 million.

The government also unsealed charges against Sybil Nancy Upham, Kenneth Heller and Richard Werdiger, who were arrested; Ernest Vogliano, who is expected to surrender on Monday; and Shmuel Sternfeld, who remains at large.

Birkenfeld, whose disclosures led to their arrests, remains the only person connected to the illegal UBS tax program who receive a jail sentence, according to the National Whistleblowers Center.

According to attorney Steven Kohn's letter to President Obama, "Mr. Birkenfeld's unprecedented voluntary disclosures led directly to the agreement between the United States and UBS AG for payment of $780 million in fines and penalties."

Kohn's letter credits Birkenfeld's disclosures for "the creation of an IRS amnesty program," which he says recovered "billions" after 14,700 people admitted using illegal UBS accounts.

"No one has sacrificed more for that fight than Mr. Birkenfeld, yet he was punished more severely than any other UBS banker or any UBS client," Kohn said in the letter.

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