By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden, Germany
A little over a month ago, the "former banker for the Swiss giant UBS who blew the whistle on the biggest tax-evasion scheme in US history" was sent to jail in the USA - to begin serving a forty-month federal sentence. Bradley Birkenfeld first came forward to US authorities in 2007 and began providing inside information on how UBS was helping thousands of Americans hide assets in secret Swiss accounts.
The National Whistleblowers Center's Stephen Kohn, the executive director and lawyer for Bradley Birkenfeld, has been pushing strongly for Obama to have the case reinvestigated and Birkenfeld freed.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Germany and neighboring states are paying off Swiss bank whistleblowers for handing over bank data on thousands of German's illegally hiding nearly half a trillion dollars in Switzerland. The initial agreements earlier this month to 1000s of citizens coming forward and confessing to hiding money in Switzerland. This is occurring in the states that border Switzerland (Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg) and in states as far away as North Rhine Westphalia (a German state on the Dutch border).
In North Rhine Westphalia alone in the last two weeks, 1000 citizens have come forward to admit their hiding of moneys in lieu of a provisional amnesty-of-sorts offered for this month. [Those pleading guilty must still pay their back taxes.] People are in a panic to meet the deadlines to come forward in four states. Several other states may become involved in coming days as the federal government's finance ministry supports the practice of buying the stolen data from Swiss banks. Some Germans are calling for general amnesty for the whole country, but so far the federal government has not pushed the issue.
Stories of sleepless tax evaders are circulating without the country. Now, readers of OP-ED NEWS and other progressive to conservationist blogs and news groups, why did not the United States reward Mr. Bradley Birkenfeld?