Largest Whistleblower Award in U.S. History

The largest whistleblower award in U.S. history has just been handed out, and it’s larger than the GDP of some developing nations: $104 million.

Courtesy of CNNMoney, we have learned that former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld’s tips to the Internal Revenue Service regarding his employer’s tax-evasion schemes helped net the tax collection agency more than $5 billion in back taxes from the 35,000 Americans who have participated in an amnesty program to repatriate their assets after illegally offshoring them with the bank’s help.

By law, whistleblowers are eligible to receive up to 30 percent of what is recovered, which is how the $104 million figure was arrived at.

“The IRS believes that the whistleblower statute provides a valuable tool to combat tax non-compliance, and this award reflects our commitment to the law,” the agency said in a statement.

The IRS Whistleblower Office was established in 2007, according to the CNN report, though Birkenfeld’s lawyers said his was the first “major reward” it had granted.

But the $104 million check is not the only thing Birkenfeld received from his participation in the case: He was also handed a 40-month prison term in 2009 for his part in UBS’s tax-evasion program after providing information on it.

He has since been released to home confinement and is seeking a presidential pardon, the story notes.

Even if that presidential pardon never comes, Birkenfeld has $104 million reasons to be glad he blew the whistle in the first place. Now let’s all just hope he pays the taxes on his big award.