Prison for Whistleblower; Probation for $6 Million Tax Cheater
Birkenfeld, a UBS banker, was not a perfect hero -- if such a thing ever existed.
He didn't bother telling the feds about how he helped one of his own clients cheat on taxes. But clearly, that sin is nothing next to the good deed he performed on behalf of American taxpayers.
Yet Birkenfeld was sentenced to 40 months in prison this week. And today, one of the fat cats who was helped by that sinister UBS program, New Jersey's Juergen Homann, who pleaded guilty to hiding roughly $6 million in Swiss bank accounts, received probation.
To paraphrase the argument made by Birkenfeld's attorney in the 60 Minutes piece, this isn't simply a case where a single man was treated unfairly. It acts as a deterrent to all future whistleblowers who find themselves in Birkenfeld's position: knowing of some illicit, corrupt activity but having a measure of their own guilt. Having seen what happened to Birkenfeld, why would such an invaluable source call the law?