UBS whistleblower begins jail sentence

The chief whistleblower in the UBS tax secrecy probe has entered prison to serve a sentence he considered unfair, hours after a Swiss court ruled the bank should not have been forced to turn over client files to investigators.

Bradley Birkenfeld, a former UBS banker, entered a federal prison in Pennsylvania to serve a 40-month prison term, after attacking the government for the punishment in light of what he called his cooperation in helping expose thousands of US tax cheats. “The American taxpayer should be outraged,” the 44-year-old told reporters in a snowstorm as he prepared to surrender to prison authorities. He said he was “proud” to have come forward and “expose the largest tax fraud in the world”.

Last February, UBS accepted a $780m (£486.7m) penalty and admitted to criminal wrongdoing for helping US taxpayers hide accounts from the Internal Revenue Service. The Swiss bank later agreed to give the names of 4,450 American clients to government investigators.