by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 11th 2012 12:35pm
Sometimes it seems that the federal government's left hand has no idea what it's right hand is doing. Bradley Birkenfeld, a former banker for Swiss banking giant UBS, blew the whistle on UBS practices of helping Americans hide their money offshore. For his troubles, the Justice Department charged him, leading to a plea deal in which he plead guilty to fraud conspiracy and was put in jail for a few years. He just got out a month ago... and now the IRS has handed him $104 million for the whistleblowing, which resulted in UBS paying $780 million to the government to avoid prosecution itself. The IRS claims they're doing this to encourage others to blow the whistle on tax fraud... though they might want to warn the DOJ not to put their whistleblowers in prison. That said... $104 million seems somewhat insane. I realize that it may have resulted in the US government getting a lot more money, but $104 million still seems like a giant sum of money to give a guy who, as the government's own efforts show, participated in fraud. If the idea is to "get the word out" to whistleblowers, you would think that smaller sums, still in the millions of dollars, would do the trick...
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