Bloomberg reports that Birkenfeld hired Schertler & Onorato LLP in 2006 to help him tell the U.S. how UBS used Swiss bank secrecy to cheat the Internal Revenue Service. Birkenfeld, now 47, told his story the next year to the IRS, the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Senate and the Securities and Exchange Commission. He agreed in October 2007 to pay the law firm 12.5% of any IRS whistle-blower award, according to court documents.
Birkenfeld served 31 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and was released on August 1st, six weeks before the IRS gave him the largest federal whistle-blower award for an individual. Birkenfeld had fired Schertler & Onorato in 2008, and his new law firm says the 12.5% accord is no longer binding.
'I hereby request that you confirm in writing that your firm does not assert any financial interest in any whistle-blower claim that Mr. Birkenfeld may have related to his allegations against UBS', attorney David C. Colapinto of Washington-based Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto LLP wrote to the Schertler firm in December 2010.
Attorney David Schertler refused to waive his firm’s financial claim. Last year, before it was clear that Birkenfeld would ever see his big payday, a federal judge referred the matter to an arbitrator. The arbitrator has yet to rule.
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image: © Steven Depolo