MANHATTAN (CN) – The federal government filed criminal charges against seven people who it says hid more than $100 million in Swiss bank accounts through a UBS tax evasion scandal. Two were fined after immediately pleading guilty in Federal Court.
Also on Thursday, the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a petition asking President Obama to grant clemency to Bradley Birkenfeld, an ex-UBS banker who was sentenced to 40 months in prison after he exposed the UBS scheme.
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, respectively. The government also unsealed charges against Sybil Nancy Upham, Kenneth Heller and Richard Werdiger, who all were arrested. Ernest Vogliano is expected to surrender on April 19, while another suspect, Shmuel Sternfeld, remains at large.
Birkenfeld, whose disclosures led to their arrests, remains the only person connected to the illegal UBS tax program to receive a jail sentence, according to the National Whistleblowers Center.
According to his attorney Steven Kohn’s letter to 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 also credits Birkenfeld’s disclosures for “the creation of an IRS amnesty program,” which he says recovered “billions” after 14,700 people admitted to 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.