A UBS banking client who pleaded guilty to concealing $6.1 million in secret Swiss bank accounts has been sentenced to five years’ probation, even as the whistleblower who helped expose the UBS tax evasion scheme is set to begin a prison term Friday.
Juergen Homann, 67, of Saddle River, N.J., pleaded guilty in September to failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Accounts, or FBAR, form for 2007. Homann, a naturalized U.S. citizen and German native who runs a company that trades minerals and chemicals, accepted responsibility for failing to report his Swiss bank account on the F-BAR form and on his personal income tax return.
Judge Stanley Chesler of Federal District Court in Newark sentenced Homann to five years’ probation on Wednesday, crediting him with providing substantial help to the federal government in its probe of UBS. Homann was also ordered to pay a $60,000 fine and perform 300 hours of community service.
“As an international businessman, I should have known better,” he said, according to Reuters. “I have to take the consequences.”
Separately, a federal judge in Florida refused Monday to delay the sentence of former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld, who is scheduled to begin a 40-month prison term on Friday. Birkenfeld helped the Justice Department and the IRS uncover details of how UBS helped U.S. clients conceal their money, telling stories of how he once carried diamonds concealed in a toothpaste tube on board a cross-Atlantic airplane flight. Birkenfeld gave his first public interview Sunday evening on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” saying he was the whistleblower who helped the government force UBS into agreeing to a $780 million settlement and turning over the names of over 4,450 customers.
“I gave them the biggest tax fraud case in the world,” he said. “I exposed 19,000 international criminals. And I’m going to jail for that?”
Birkenfeld was convicted for helping California real estate developer Igor Olenicoff conceal $200 million of his assets in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Prosecutors claim that Birkenfeld did not tell them all he knew about Olenicoff’s holdings.
Olenicoff pleaded guilty in 2007 to tax evasion. He was sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to pay $52 million in back taxes, fines and penalties.
Birkenfeld has been under house arrest and wearing an electronic ankle monitor, and is scheduled to start his prison sentence Friday. He asked the judge for a delay in his prison sentence, saying he had further information to provide the government. He has also written to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a probe of prosecutors, saying they made “inaccurate, misleading and incomplete statements” at his sentencing hearing in August (see Former UBS Banker Sentenced to 40 Months).
Despite the prison sentence, Birkenfeld may be able to claim up to 30 percent of the proceeds that the IRS collects from UBS as a result of information he has provided under federal whistleblower laws.a