UBS whistelblower Birkenfeld lodges request for return to Europe

  • World
  • Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014

Bradley Birkenfeld makes remarks before surrendering to authorities at the Schuylkill County Federal Correctional Institution in Minersville, Pennsylvania, January 8, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla./ZURICH (Reuters) - Ex-UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld, a whistleblower in a tax fraud case involving the Swiss bank for which he was awarded $104 million (67 million pounds) after serving more than two years in prison, has lodged a request to be allowed to return to Europe.

U.S. tax authorities awarded Birkenfeld a nine-figure payout in 2012 under an Internal Revenue Service whistleblower programme, after his tips led Swiss bank UBS to settle with U.S. regulators in 2009 for $780 million in fines, penalties, interest and restitution.

Birkenfeld himself was sentenced to a 40-month prison term and three years of supervised release, after pleading guilty in 2008 to conspiring to defraud the United States.

The supervised release is due to expire on Nov. 28, 2015 but in a filing to the Southern District Court of Florida, Birkenfeld requested that this be terminated early, or for the conditions to be amended.

"The reason is simple: as the end of his sentence approaches, Mr Birkenfeld, who now resides in New Hampshire, seeks to return to Europe to rebuild his life," the filing, dated Dec. 16, read.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Mark Daly advised that "the government does not agree with the relief sought in the motion," according to the filing.

Birkenfeld's application for a hearing on his supervised release argues that, after serving more than 30 months in prison, his compliance with the conditions of his release as well as his charitable actions, which include buying six electric bicycles for the Boston Police Department following the Boston Marathon bombings, support his request.

His lawyers said the only blotch was an arrest in 2013 for driving while intoxicated in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Birkenfeld was subsequently ordered to hand over his driver's license for six months, though the conviction is currently under appeal.

Lawyers for Birkenfeld did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment. A clerk for William Zloch, the presiding judge, declined to comment on when he would respond to the motion.

(Reporting by Francisco Alvarado in Fort Lauderdale and Joshua Franklin in Zurich)

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