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Thank You, Mr Birkenfeld



January 13, 2010 – Comments (13) | RELATED TICKERS: UBS , GS , C

 Bradley Birkenfeld, the former international banker who blew the whistle on the largest tax fraud in U.S. history is scheduled to go to jail on January 8, 2010.  Mr. Birkenfeld is responsible for the recovery of over $1 Billion in lost U.S. revenue for the U.S. Taxpayers.  Leading public interest groups have strongly condemned this sentence and have urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reconsider its action. Mr. Birkenfeld was recently named Tax Analysts inaugural annual "Person of the Year."

I would like to encourage other whistleblowers and see Mr Birkenfeld's sentence reduced. And yes, I know Mr Birkenfeld stands to receive up to 30% of the tax money he helped recover under a Bush administration law. Anybody out there interested in a similar payday? Nice money.

But for me this story is more about the 19,000 US millionaires who did not pay there taxes.

In the last five minutes of the Democracy Now video, we learn how to cheat on your taxes, and that it is a crime of commission. Every one of these tax cheats checked off a box on their tax return that says they did not have any foreign accounts. Every one of these tax cheats asked UBS to not mail their statements to the USA. Every one of these tax cheats either flew to Switzerland to get their statements or had their statements hand delivered by complicit UBS employees such as Mr Birkenfeld.

I would like to know the names of these tax cheats. I would like their faces up on the Post Office wall like common criminals. I would like to know if Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is among them so I would be able to express my displeasure by not shopping at Whole Foods.

I would like to know if President Barack Obama is on this list, or Barney Frank, or Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Dick Cheney or George Bush.

Hank Paulson or Timothy Geithner?

Perhaps these names should also be cross referenced against a terrorist no fly list.

Perhaps Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder's name is on this list. Perhaps you would like to call the Attorney General and ask that the Dept of Justice not be complicit in encouraging tax evasion by protecting the identities of these criminals, but rather ask that their names be made public like any other criminal.

202 353 1555

Wouldn't it be moronic if some of these tax cheats are the very same Investment Bankers who are using TARP money to get huge bonuses? What are the odds of that? 90%? 100%?

Talk about a publicity problem, wow. 

Publicity, Public, Publicize. 

Maybe the names of some popular CAPS bloggers are on that list. Alstry, Flea, ... Me? (I'm not). (honest). (really).

I know there are "walls of shame" for drunk drivers and deadbeat dads.

D.O.J. - 202 353 1555

If you would like to ask your Congressman if his name is on that list the number for the Congressional Switchboard is 202 224 3121.

Or ask President Barack Obama why these criminals deserve to have their identity protected directly at

I know a lot of you believe that wealthy people are deserving of their money because they came by it honestly through hard work.

Maybe it is time to rethink that premise.

Perhaps we could ask the IRS to profile the tax returns of people who have flown to Switzerland. That would not be "racial" profiling. That would be "habits of tax cheaters" profiling.

If you do make those calls, perhaps you would also remember to ask that Mr Birkenfeld's sentence be reduced. Had he not come forward, none of those tax cheats would have been caught. So far, none of the tax cheats are going to jail.

I am not sure why that is.

There are 19,000 names of tax cheats on that list. I bet at least a few of them are news worthy.

Mr Attorney General Holder, if I may remind you of the advice offered by a former US President:

"Speak softly, but carry a big stick".



Thank you for reading,


(Honest, I'm not on that list.)

13 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On January 13, 2010 at 8:52 AM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

+1 Rec!

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#2) On January 13, 2010 at 8:56 AM, 4everlost (28.68) wrote:

Thanks for sharing this story.  I agree that we should know every name on that list.  We already know most of the Congress, the President and his staff are corrupt; I would also like to know if they are criminals.

I agree that most high income citizens deserve the money they earn.  There are are some (many?) that come by their money by non-ethical and/or illegal means but many of them run small to medium businesses and other worthwhile organizations.  Let's get the crooked ones.

Rec #2.

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#3) On January 13, 2010 at 9:02 AM, lemoneater (57.21) wrote:

Interesting blog, devoish. I've often thought that the very wealthy are faced with much more temptation than I would care to have. Sometimes I think integrity is the rarest commodity.

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#4) On January 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM, 100ozRound (28.60) wrote:

HOLY ****

I wasn't even aware of this story.  I'm going to do more research on this.

Thanks for the heads-up!

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#5) On January 13, 2010 at 10:36 AM, devoish (81.87) wrote:


I only mentioned a few Dems to sway your opinion. I am sure the Dems are all squeeky clean and only Repubs, Conservatives and Libertarians dodge taxes. ;-) 


The word "cow" gets through the filters. What I would like to read is AG Holder's (or the AG office) reasoning behind not naming names. And the sentencing statement of the judge who sentenced Mr Birkenfeld. Thank you, if you can find them.


Thank you. I think integrity is pretty common. I think 100% perfect much less so. I know I am not perfect, but I think most people are pretty good most of the time, and probably want to be better.


I cannot agree with you.

I cannot agree with "we already know", but I could certainly agree with "we need to always be suspicious and verify that" most of the Congress...etc.

I cannot unquestioningly agree that "most high income citizens deserve the money they earn". It is far to general. I might think we agree, even though we may not. All of us have a different understanding of "high income". If you are talking about an engineer getting taxes removed from an $80k paycheck, I would say she probably earns it. If you are talking about a contractor paying illegal aliens or not illegal Americans off the books, to make $200k, not so much. If you are talking about the CEO of UNH getting $28 mil (?) plus options for skimming off money that needs to go to hospital employees or equipment, no f'n way, by $27 mil, plus options. If you are talking about a Doctor getting $400k for brain surgery, I'm good with that. Jonas Salk, worth every penny and probably then some.

But if you are asking me to put most hedge fund managers, investment bankers, or financial industry executives into a group as deserving as Jonas Salk, you are not getting me there.

And there is also the "deserve the money" part. My contractor example may deserve some of the money he gets, but not the savings from paying help off the books.

I also do not know what jail Mr Birkenfeld is going to, but I woould not mind sending him a thank you note, regardless of what his motivation was.

And please, if this seems outrageous to you, make the call to your Representatives.

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#6) On January 13, 2010 at 12:57 PM, 100ozRound (28.60) wrote:

Devo - I'm self-censoring - I don't think caps has filters.

my girlfriend is a law student and has access to Westlaw - I'll see if she can dig up some info if it's out for public dissemination.  The Interwebs isn't sayin much...

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#7) On January 13, 2010 at 1:55 PM, devoish (81.87) wrote:


I know you did that yourself, I also know you didn't spell "cow" with four asteriks.

Once again, thanks for whatever you come up with.

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#8) On January 13, 2010 at 2:04 PM, goalie37 (86.06) wrote:

I'm commenting just to keep devo's blog at the top of the list so more people can read it.

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#9) On January 13, 2010 at 3:32 PM, 100ozRound (28.60) wrote:

I know you did that yourself, I also know you didn't spell "cow" with four asteriks.

Not sure where you're coming from - did I offend you with that?

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#10) On January 13, 2010 at 6:41 PM, devoish (81.87) wrote:

No I am not offended. I was laughing to myself at your reaction "Holy **** "  because it matched mine, and finding a little humor in the idea that the use of the phrase "holy cow" really does not quite express what I thought about the story strongly enough either.

I guess you had to be here...

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#11) On January 13, 2010 at 7:03 PM, 100ozRound (28.60) wrote:

Ah!  I got ya now.  Sorry you had to explain it!

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#12) On January 14, 2010 at 12:42 AM, Option1307 (30.45) wrote:


Intersting to say the least. Althoguh Im not very hopefully that we'll wver see the names on the list considering that half of Congress/Timmy Geithner/etc. are either on the list, or have had "tax problems" recently. So I'm not holding my breath for action.

Good stuff here Devoish. I'd like to learn more about this issue when I have time. Thanks for the info.

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#13) On January 19, 2010 at 3:16 AM, uclayoda87 (28.66) wrote:

Unless the administration has a political motive to keep these names hidden, I can't understand their lack of transparency.  I would guess that if key Republican names are on the list that they would like to publicize this a few weeks before the 2010 elections, but I suspect that this won't happen because the collateral damage to trial laywers would likely be quite large.  I single out trial lawyers because the type of millionaire you are talking about is unlikely to be small business owners or people who have made a few million from work and investments.  I would guess that people who feel that they are above the law (politicians and lawyers, who are frequently one and the same) would view tax evasion as a right.  How many people in Federal government are exempt from the rules that we have to live by?  This is just an extension of the privileges of being part of the oligarchy.  So I suspect that you have answered your own question correctly and that the jail time is intended to silence any further disclosure of information from other people who have inside information.

I'm sure that any similarity to Chicago or Russian politics is purely coincidental.

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