A Timeline for the Birkenfeld Case


In January, UBS officials sign a special agreement with the IRS, in which it was agreed to file W-9 forms or withhold and pay a 28% tax on interest earned on assets held overseas for U.S. clients. In October, Birkenfeld hires on at UBS. His earlier work was at Credit Suisse in 1996, and Barclay’s bank in 1998.


Birkenfeld serves as a director for major wealthy clients at UBS in Geneva, Switzerland.


Birkenfeld learns that the IRS special agreement was being violated. In October, he resigns from UBS, then complains to UBS compliance about the bank’s ‘unfair and deceptive business practices’. Three months later, having heard nothing, he reports the violations in a letter to the UBS General Counsel.

December 2006

PL 109-432 becomes law; IRS offers awards to those who help recover sizable tax-evasion amounts. The reward can be as high as 30% of the recovery.

April 2007

Birkenfeld blows the whistle; through an attorney, he voluntarily submits written details to DoJ. DoJ says they are not part of the IRS amnesty program, and will not grant amnesty to Birkenfeld. Birkenfeld then meets with DoJ, but the talks stalled. So, he talks to SEC, IRS and the US Senate.

April 2008

Birkenfeld’s lawyers tell DoJ he will cooperate in exchange for amnesty. Two months later, Birkenfeld is arrested.

June 2008

Birkenfeld pleads guilty to helping wealthy American clients to evade taxes. Promises to cooperate. All parties sign Statement of Facts for Case No. 08-CR-60099-ZLOCH.

February 2009

UBS pays $780 Million to IRS to resolve a criminal tax avoidance investigation. UBS also admits to assisting 17,000 clients evade taxes with offshore accounts, from 2000 to 2007.

July 2009

To avoid additional fines, UBS agrees to provide the names of 5,000 Americans with offshore UBS accounts.

August 2009

Birkenfeld is sentenced to serve 40-months.

October 2009

IRS concludes related amnesty program; more than 7,500 wealthy American clients voluntarily disclosed their overseas accounts, and paid taxes/penalties.

January 2010

60-Minutes article airs on January 3rd. With NWC Counsel, Birkenfeld files a complaint on January 5th, charging DoJ attorneys with providing false and misleading information at the sentencing hearing and in the 60-Minutes interview. Birkenfeld begins his 40-month prison sentence on January 8th.

September 2012

IRS awards Birkenfeld $104 Million, a payout in accordance with Public Law 109-432 (26 USC § 7623).