Birkenfeld to Get Reduced Sentence in UBS Case

August 18th, 2009

The United States government has asked a judge for leniency with regard to the sentencing of its star UBS-informant, Bradley Birkenfeld, whose sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for Friday. In June 2008, Birkenfeld – the man who infamously detailed how he smuggled diamonds through US customs in a toothpaste tube – plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Since then, however, he cooperated extensively with US investigators from a number of agencies, and became an invaluable informant/witness in the US’s drawn out legal battle against UBS.

From the AP:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Neiman said in the motion that Bradley Birkenfeld, 43, had provided extensive cooperation. Because of that, he deserved no more than 2 1/2 years in federal prison, or half the five-year maximum for his guilty plea on a charge of conspiring to defraud the U.S.

Birkenfeld provided key information not only to U.S. prosecutors but also to foreign authorities investigating UBS, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and a U.S. Senate panel.

“This substantial assistance has been timely, significant, useful, truthful, complete and reliable,” Neiman said in the motion.

Naturally, however, Birkenfeld’s attorney would have liked the government to have been even more lenient in its sentencing:

Birkenfeld attorney Robert Stickney, in a motion filed later Tuesday, said his client deserved only five years’ probation for “extraordinary” cooperation that peeled back centuries of Swiss banking secrecy tradition. He said Birkenfeld first began raising concerns about questionable practices within UBS in 2005 and met numerous times before his indictment with U.S. investigators from several agencies.

“Simply stated, the nature and extent of the information that Mr. Birkenfeld provided to each of these government authorities was unprecedented,” Stickney wrote.

It is nice to see that the US is at least cutting Mr. Birkenfeld some slack – after al,l he was invaluable to their case.

Written by Clark Gascoigne

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