Friday 23rd of February 2024

the law is an arse and their arse is the law....

David McBride was not given leave to appeal the decision made yesterday about the nature of his duties. It means Justice Mossop’s decision stands, and his duty is to the military chain of command, and only that.

Following today’s proceedings in court was not easy for those of us who didn’t go to law school, or are unfamiliar with 19th century court decisions. The prosecution used a court case from 1874 to argue that a military oath does not have any allowance for any other higher – or public – duty.

 

from X

The Crown is back on her feet and taking us back to a case in 1874 about taking oaths to obey directions and orders. The Crown is referring to more recent authorities that adopt the same principle. What the Crown is doing is saying that the 1874 case is the authority that they rely on to ground their submission on what the oath says about duty. The Crown position is that the path says nothing about public interest. Their position is that McBrides duty was to obey orders and the public interest (our interest) is not relevant.

 

The Appeals Court agreed with Justice Mossop, and that’s that. For now.

In effect, it means that McBride’s efforts to use the chain of command to report what he thought was criminal behaviour, being rebuffed by his superiors, matters nought. Nor does the fact that what he reported has since been shown to be true. According to the government’s argument, the only thing that matter is that he went public in contravention of military law.

The repercussions are frightening, not just for David McBride – who may now have no option but to plead guilty – but also for Australia and any other potential whistleblowers.

The judges, justices and jury members can only judge according to the letter of the law. But if that’s the law, it needs to be changed.

https://michaelwest.com.au/duty-bound-to-hide-a-crime-appeals-court-paves-the-way-for-mcbride-guilty-verdict/

 

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withheld material....

David McBride, a former military lawyer who helped expose allegations of Australian war crimes in Afghanistan, pleaded guilty on Friday in a Canberra court to three charges related to the leaking of classified information to the media.

McBride, who originally faced five charges, pleaded guilty in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Supreme Court to offenses including stealing commonwealth information and subsequently passing it on to reporters for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The guilty plea comes after McBride’s legal team abandoned a defense arguing that his disclosure to the media was protected by whistleblower safeguards, and follows a government intervention that certain documents, if discussed during the trial, could undermine “the security and defense of Australia.”

“I’ll say one thing,” McBride said on Friday outside the court in Canberra, according to The Guardian. “I stand tall, and I believe I did my duty… and I see this as the beginning of a better Australia.”

During the trial, the court heard that McBride felt he had a moral duty to speak up after becoming concerned by what he described as the “over-investigation” of alleged misconduct by special forces soldiers, which he believed to be “excessive” and compromised soldiers’ safety, ABC said.

The material leaked by McBride formed the basis of ABC’s 2017 ‘The Afghan Files’ expose, which detailed allegations of war crimes against Australian forces in Afghanistan.

The evidence led to an inquiry which found that Australian soldiers had unlawfully killed 39 Afghans between 2005 and 2016; additionally, Australian soldiers had placed evidence of the use of weapons on civilians killed in combat.

Months after McBride was arrested in 2019, ABC’s offices were raided by federal police as part of an investigation into one of the journalists, Dan Oakes, who published the reports from the leaked information. Prosecutors declined to proceed with charges against Oakes, saying that it was not in the public interest to do so.

The prosecution of McBride, however, has led to claims that Australia’s whistleblower protections are not sufficiently robust. “This is a dark day for democracy in Australia,” Rex Patrick, a former Senator and founder of the Whistleblower Justice Fund, told the BBC.

“There is no public interest in prosecuting whistleblowers, and certainly no public interest in sending them to jail,” added human rights lawyer Kieran Pender, also to the BBC.

Speaking outside the court, McBride’s legal team hinted at a possible appeal; his lawyer Mark Davis said that the government intervention to withhold material crucial to their defense had dealt them a “fatal blow.” McBride is expected to be sentenced early next year.

https://www.rt.com/news/587483-australia-war-crimes-whistleblower-guilty/

 

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SEE ALSO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsun8e4E4Gk

GUSNOTE: THE AUSTRALIAN MEDIA HAS WORKED HARD (NOT REALLY) TO IGNORE (NOT MENTION) THIS IMPORTANT EVENT BECAUSE IT IS A FACT THAT MANY JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA ORGANISATIONS DO NOT WANT TO RECOGNISE JULIA ASSANGE AS ONE OF THEIR OWN. WE HAVE PUBLISHED THIS WEBSITE BEFORE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsun8e4E4Gk YET IN  EIGHT MONTHS, IT HAS BARELY COLLECTED 5,500 VIEWS. DAVID MCBRIDE WAS ONE OF THE SPEAKERS. HE WAS BRILLIANT. VISIT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsun8e4E4Gk AGAIN — AND PASS IT ON TO YOUR FRIENDS, RELATIVES AND YOUR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT.

 

tax "savings".....

“Six armed AFP officers, wearing ballistic vests stormed my apartment … I was frisked despite still being in bed”. This was the experience of share-trader Gabriel Bernarde after notifying corporate regulators about an alleged fraud in the financial markets. Michael West reports on the persecution of the powerless.

Gabriel Bernarde’s experience as a whistleblower arose in testimony before the Senate last week. Not only had he been raided at home, in bed, and frisked, but they gagged him too. Good thing the police officers didn’t have to use their battering rams to break down the door to Bernarde’s terrace house in Richmond because his fiancé Emily Pallet was up early on the morning of August 5, 2021 and kindly opened the door for them.

Funny how the police never gagged anybody from PwC for selling state secrets to foreign clients, or frisked the bank chiefs in bed for their systemic banking frauds! Funny how nobody at the Big End of Town ever seems to be raided at home by armed police officers. Ever.

It was the 6th King of Babylon, Hammurabi, back in 1772 BC who declared: “The first duty of government is to protect the powerless from the powerful”.

If you look at the experience of Gabriel Bernarde though, the government seems to think its first duty is to protect the powerful from the powerless. Bernarde is a small time market analyst and ‘short-seller’ who blew the whistle on what he thought were suspicious practices by ASX listed company Tyro Payments. The attacks on the powerless are even more egregious when you consider persecution of Julian Assange, Tax Office whistleblower Richard Boyle and Afghan war crimes whistleblower David McBride, who faces court next week and a possible jail term of 50 years.

Stonkered

This reporter has long catalogued abuses in accounting and law by the Big End of Town. And so it was that we were stonkered last week to hear of a statutory body we had never come across, the Companies Auditors Disciplinary Board (CADB). The primary duty of this exceedingly low-profile government organisation is to prosecute wrongdoing by auditors – you know, the Big 4 types such as PwC, EY, Deloitte and KPMG.

In light of Gabriel Bernarde’s testimony, it was intriguing to hear the testimony of the CADB operatives, if operatives is the operative word because here is their performance over the years.

 

 

Yes, you read it right, nothing last year, except one case dismissed and withdrawn by ASIC. Delving back a bit further, we find that the CADB has prosecuted 25 cases since April 2008. That’s a majestic strike rate of 1.5 per year. 2016 to 2018 appear to be the lost years. Oh, and 2010 to 2013 also appear to be the lost years too, when nothing was recorded.

The big – and singular – enforcement action last year was – no, of course not, not KPMG’s massive audit cheating scandal or any of the dozens of Big 4 audit scams exposed over the years in these pages – rather, it was the prosecution of Rocco Luciano Spagnolo, an auditor from Griffith in respect of his audit work for an insurance broker in Merryjig in rural Victoria.

There was a flurry of activity in 2021 where a stupefying 9 auditor registrations were achieved, as well as 27 ‘withdrawn’ by ASIC. It may be a coincidence, but this indefatigable incursion into the world of work follows the Senate Inquiry into Audit, described here as perhaps the most useless inquiry of the modern world. 

 

A merry jig indeed

Rocco and his client Rennie de Maria might have been caught in the cross-hairs of ASIC’s hard-hitting CADB but they had the disadvantage of being small nobodies in the world of audit, not the Big 4.

That is, not a Rupert Murdoch, not a Pfizer or a Glencore, not a Lendlease or a Goldman Sachs or American Express. Not a member or a client of the Big 4. Here is a quick “Dirty Dozen” whwere airily missed by the CADB.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Australia Holdings (News Corp)

His accounts signed off by EY, Rupert’s flagship in Australia is a master at siphoning money out of the country. His accounting wizards devised a scheme a few years ago where they cooked up a $7 billion billion soufflé of intangibles from which they helped themselves to $4.5 billion in capital returns over ensuing years, $4.5 billion tax-free ripped offshore.

That’s not all. Regarded for many years by the Tax Office as Australia’s “number one tax risk”, Rupert’s auditors also sign off on  “Special Purpose” accounts, bush-league accounts which minimise disclosure to maximise tax avoidance.

By producing Special Purpose accounts, News is asking Australians to believe that – even though this company employs thousands and affects the course of government in this country – the only parties who have a stake or an interest in seeing these “public” statutory accounts are a couple of Rupert-controlled shareholders overseas.

There’s more. A few years ago we outed News for orchestrating a $903 million loan to Foxtel. As if Foxtel needed a loan at the very apogee of its profitability. No matter, the loan carried a hefty interest rate of 12 per cent. So News was effectively lending money to its cashed-up pay TV business Foxtel at 12 per cent, claiming tax deductions on the loan and lending the money back to itself at an interest rate of zero.

 

Goldman Sachs

The Wall Street investment bank makes hundreds of millions of dollars in income in Australia but if you shell out $41 for a copy of its “public” financial statements, the head entity in Australia, Goldman Sachs Holdings ANZ Pty Ltd, disclosed revenues of just $US24 million (2016), well shy of the $US45 million booked in finance costs.

How do they do it? They don’t bother to consolidate (to include all companies in the stable) so the accounts for the world’s most powerful investment bank in Australia are meaningless. Auditor is PwC.

 

SABMiller

How do you sell $3.5 billion worth of beer a year to Aussies but pay no tax? You engineer a takeover, generate billions in paper losses, and match them off against your profits for years to come. Auditor PwC.

Instead of billions in beer sales you will only find $57 million in income in SAB’s accounts because, like Goldman, the accounts are not consolidated so they simply don’t show all the earnings. Directors and auditor even have the cheek to label this brewing giant a “small proprietary company”.

 

William Hill

Paying millions in audit fees certainly does not ensure getting it right. Accounting academic Jeff Knapp discovered a $55 million black hole in the accounts of William Hill, Australia’s largest better company,

“They are showing a false exchange rate in the annual report,” said Knapp. “We can say with reasonable confidence that the amount shown for equity in the financial statements is out by £30 million ($55 million).

“The balance sheet has to balance. So that (the £30 million hole) means something else is wrong in the financial statements.” Auditor is Deloitte.

 

READ MORE:

https://michaelwest.com.au/whistleblower-raided-in-bed-gagged-while-big-4-run-amok-and-regulators-duck-for-cover/

 

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SEE ALSO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsun8e4E4Gk

GUSNOTE: THE AUSTRALIAN MEDIA HAS WORKED HARD (NOT REALLY) TO IGNORE (NOT MENTION) THIS IMPORTANT EVENT BECAUSE IT IS A FACT THAT MANY JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA ORGANISATIONS DO NOT WANT TO RECOGNISE JULIA ASSANGE AS ONE OF THEIR OWN. WE HAVE PUBLISHED THIS WEBSITE BEFORE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsun8e4E4Gk YET IN  EIGHT MONTHS, IT HAS BARELY COLLECTED 5,500 VIEWS. DAVID MCBRIDE WAS ONE OF THE SPEAKERS. HE WAS BRILLIANT. VISIT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsun8e4E4Gk AGAIN — AND PASS IT ON TO YOUR FRIENDS, RELATIVES AND YOUR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT.

obey orders.....

 

Crown successfully overturns Nuremberg war crimes principles in Australian court    By John Jiggens

 

In direct contradiction to the 1945 Nuremberg trials, the Crown successfully argued in the prosecution of Afghan Files military whistleblower David McBride for breaching the Defence Forces Act that the sole duty of an Australian soldier is to follow orders. An Australian soldier does not serve Australia, or the Australian people or the public interest. The final blow for McBride fell last Thursday, when the court was closed down under Australia’s National Security Act, and a large contingent of men in suits confiscated all the files that the Defence had planned to use to argue McBride’s public interest defence. 

Last week, David McBride was prosecuted in the Supreme Court of the ACT for the ‘crime’ of releasing The Afghan Files to the ABC. The prosecution argued that under the Defence Forces Act, defence people must treat information as confidential and can’t disclose, unless authorised. As David McBride did not have authority to disclose the Afghan Files information to ABC journalists, and he had a duty not to disclose this information, which he broke, he needed to be prosecuted and disciplined.

McBride always admitted that he had acted without the consent of a senior officer when he released the Afghan Files documents to the ABC, because his attempt to take the matter through the right channels was ignored. Consequently, his lawyers intended to argue a public interest defence for his actions. The Crown countered that there could be no public interest defence because the sole duty of a soldier is to follow orders.

At the heart of David McBride’s trial was the question: who does an Australian soldier serve? For the Crown, Trish McDonald argued that the answer was clear. An Australian soldier did not serve Australia, or the Australian people or the public interest: the person they served was the King of England, Charles the third.

Said the Crown:

“To interpret ‘serve’ to mean to act in the public interest, is to turn on its head service to king or queen”. It was not for the soldier to do whatever he thinks is right.

“Nowhere in the oath [of allegiance] does it refer to public interest or that a soldier must act in the public interest”, McDonald added. “If it were, Parliament would have said so.”

This was certainly a strong argument – for an Australian republic!

Trish McDonald relied on a 19th century authority on military justice and statutory powers, [C.M. Clode, (1874)], written well before the Commonwealth of Australia existed, which she quoted, “There is nothing so dangerous to the civil establishment of the state as an undisciplined or reactionary army.”

For the Crown, the corollary of this antique view was, if soldiers were allowed any duty, other than to obey orders, the result would be an undisciplined army.

The Defence countered that, “The duty to serve the sovereign does not require blind obedience to orders.”

They asked that the judge should allow a public interest defence and instruct the jury on the law that would allow the jury to decide on the consequences of McBride’s action.

“In the 21st Century for the Crown to make the assertion that to obey unquestionably the orders of superiors ignores the Nuremberg trials and the acceptance in our society that members of the military have higher duties,” argued the Defence.

There were multiple duties for members of the ADF, one of which was to obey orders, but there were many other duties, and they can conflict and compete, the Defence argued. McBride’s actions were in the public interest of the army and Australia, the Defence asserted, and they wanted a jury trial to decide this.

Neither Trish McDonald nor His Honour Justice Mossop bothered to respond to the Nuremberg argument. Not only did they ignore Nuremberg, (1945), even more egregiously they ignored Brereton (2020).

Was the Australian Defence Forces (the ADF) a disciplined force in Afghanistan? Did McBride’s action transform it into an undisciplined force? Or did his actions force the ADF to become a better disciplined force?

Clearly McBride’s actions led to the Brereton Report, and Major General Paul Brereton, the Inspector General of Defence, judged the ADF to be such an undisciplined force, he considered stripping them all of their medals of service.

The reason David McBride wanted a jury trial was he wanted a panel of his peers to consider the consequences of his action and give their response on whether they considered this a crime, without relying on some antique relic from before the birth of the Commonwealth of Australia to decide. David McBride wanted to be able to argue a public interest defence for his actions before a jury of his peers, and to let them be his judge.

This was decidedly not what the Crown wanted. They asked the judge to instruct the jury:

‘There is no aspect of the accused’s duty as a military officer arising by virtue of the oath that allows him to act in the Australian public interest when that is contrary to a lawful order he’s been given,’ and His Honour Justice Mossop complied.

He would instruct the jury, Mossop decided, that McBride had no public interest defence. McBride’s solitary duty was to obey orders. As McBride hadn’t, this decision stripped McBride of his public interest defence, and made his conviction almost certain.

The final blow for McBride fell on Thursday, when the court was closed down under the National Security Act, and a large contingent of men in suits from the Attorney-General’s department entered and confiscated all the files that the Defence had planned to use to argue McBride’s public interest defence.

Stripped of his defence and his evidence, McBride was left with no option but to plead guilty, which he did on Friday. The judge ordered a pre-assessment for an Intensive Correction Order be prepared. The Crown did not oppose bail.

McBride will be sentenced on January 24, 2024.

So it goes. Eight out of eight whistleblowers will tell you this is the script that is always followed: the spotlight is turned on the whistleblower so the guilty can distract attention from the real crimes. No doubt, they would use a C-word to describe this: cover-up.

To return to Brereton (2020). There is no recommendation in the Brereton Report to prosecute the whistleblower, so who decided to prosecute David McBride?

What Brereton actually recommended was an investigation by the Australian Federal Police, not of the whistleblower, but of horrendous war crimes.

The Brereton Report found credible evidence of 39 murders of civilians and prisoners by (or at the instruction of) members of the Australian special forces, which were subsequently covered up by ADF personnel. The unlawful killings discussed in the Brereton report began in 2009, with most occurring in 2012 and 2013 in Uruzgan. The report stated 25 ADF personnel were involved in the killings, including those who were accessories to a 2012 incident Brereton described as “possibly the most disgraceful episode in Australian military history.” The details of this episode were redacted in Brereton’s public report.

Brereton charged the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with the responsibility to investigate the alleged war crimes and prepare prosecutions. However, for the past month, I have had concerns that the Australian Federal Police are not investigating war crimes in Uruzgan.

My concerns arose in October, when I heard a talk by a local north coast filmmaker who had visited Uruzgan province in May 2023. He was told the most harrowing stories by locals about Australian forces, mainly a group that they described as the bearded devils, who came in helicopters at night in raids, and they spoke of one particular raid where they claimed that 56 members of their three villages had been killed. Distressed, the filmmaker had contacted the Australian Federal Police who explained they couldn’t investigate on the ground in Uruzgan because Australian authorities did not recognise the new Afghan government.

I contacted the AFP some weeks ago to confirm this story and to find out if the AFP had an active investigation in Uruzgan province. So far. they have not replied. Hopefully, I shall hear from them shortly.

In the meantime, all the Australian public have witnessed as a result of Brereton is this disgraceful persecution of the whistleblower.

https://johnmenadue.com/british-crown-successful-overturns-nuremberg-war-crimes-principles-in-australian-court/

 

a hole in ones.....

 

Corruption of U.S. Justice Department and the Two-Tiered Justice System: The Case of Whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld By Jeremy Kuzmarov

 

When this Whistleblower Exposed the Crimes of Obama’s Golf Partner and 12th Largest Campaign Contributor, the U.S. Justice Department Did the Honorable Thing—It Jailed the Whistleblower and Let Obama’s Golf Partner Walk Away Free...

 

Bradley Birkenfeld is a former Swiss banker who helped the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recoup billions of dollars in tax revenues after exposing the largest tax fraud in U.S. history.

Yet it was Birkenfeld who served 40 months at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution in Minersville, Pennsylvania, while his bosses who orchestrated the fraud and the wealthy investors who cheated the U.S. government never faced any jail time.

The egregious double standard by which whistleblowers go to prison and those on whom they blow the whistle go free is all too typical in today’s two-tiered U.S. justice system.

In April, Apple whistleblower Ashley Gjovik wrote an article in CovertAction Magazine aptly entitled “Whistleblowers Are the Conscience of Society, Yet Suffer Gravely For Trying to Hold the Rich and Powerful Accountable For Their Sins.”

It detailed the backlash and abuse that whistleblowers often face and the impunity of those holding positions of power.

In Birkenfeld’s case, at least he was able to get the last laugh: After he applied for whistleblower status following his release from prison, the IRS awarded him a settlement of $104 million through their Whistleblower Office.

Lucifer’s Banker

Birkenfeld told his incredible story in his memoir, Lucifer’s Banker: The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy (Austin, TX: Greenleaf Press, 2016), which is being made into a movie.

Birkenfeld writes that he has “lived the life of an Ian Fleming character, which was all about thrill and that’s a hunger that can get you buried.”[1]

Growing up in an upper middle-class home in Hingham, Massachusetts (his father was a neurosurgeon), Birkenfeld graduated from Norwich Military Academy in Vermont and then experienced his first taste of the corruption of the banking world working for State Street Bank and Trust Company in Boston, where he first became a whistleblower.

The father of the bank’s CEO, Marshall N. Carter, perhaps not coincidentally, had been Deputy Director of the CIA.

After getting an MBA degree, Birkenfeld started working for Credit Suisse, then Barclays and then the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), the largest Swiss banking institution and private bank in the world.

Serving as a director and head of business development for the American desk, Birkenfeld became UBS’s highest paid employee when he signed a multi-billionaire Russian émigré to the U.S., Igor Olenicoff, with the promise of helping him to evade paying taxes on much of his fortune.

Birkenfeld’s boss, Christian Bovay, conceived the scam that Birkenfeld participated in by which UBS would charge a three percent management fee to its wealthy clients in exchange for helping them to evade paying taxes by placing it securely in one of the bank’s secret off-shore accounts.

Birkenfeld would make clients more money by investing, often in weapons manufacturers. Then when the clients needed their money, UBS would lend it back at a reasonable interest rate.

Birkenfeld wrote in Lucifer’s Banker that “UBS was making a fee for holding the guy’s cash in the first place, then making another fee for loaning him his own damn money! And guess what? That guy’s happy! He’s getting his deal done, and he’s still doing it with tax-free cash! I couldn’t believe it, and you know what? It worked, over and over again.”[2]

Birkenfeld’s job was to travel to the U.S. frequently, to attend charity events and upscale social functions, and to woo wealthy new clients to the UBS Bank with an offer they couldn’t refuse.

When asked by a prospective client what he could do for them, Birkenfeld’s stock answer was “three zeros: Zero income tax, zero capital gains tax; and zero inheritance tax.”

And he told them that, if the feds came nosing around, they were protected by Swiss laws.

Birkenfeld did very well with the arrangement by taking a cut of the investment, enabling him to purchase a $250,000 Ferrari Maranello and to live the high life.

Birkenfeld estimated that the total assets in the secret U.S. accounts acquired and invested by UBS in Switzerland totaled a whopping $20 billion.[3]

With time, Birkenfeld wrote that his conscience began to bother him as he recognized that he was helping rich people to “not pay their share, while the tax man’s axe fell on those who couldn’t afford it.”[4]

Birkenfeld decided to become a whistleblower on November 24, 2004, after his boss Christian Bovay issued a three-page internal memorandum, “Cross-Border Banking,” that specified that private wealth management employees should not do precisely what Birkenfeld and others had been doing—traveling to the U.S. seeking out clients by proposing to help them evade taxes in violation of U.S. laws.

Birkenfeld considered the memo to be a “cover-your-ass document,” whose purpose was for company management to wash its hands of activities carried out by company employees and, if they were investigated by police authorities, to create the false illusion that they did not support such practices.

Birkenfeld wrote“Christian Bovay. That fucking slimy, rotten-toothed, dandruff-flinging scumbag. This was all him, all the way…We are all making a fucking fortune for the firm. Would they throw their best moneymakers under not merely a bus, but a bullet train? Yes they would…In a fucking heartbeat. That bastard Bovay was like Satan. And what did that make me? A trusting naïve dupe. Nothing more then Lucifer’s fucking banker.”[5]

On October 5, 2005, Birkenfeld resigned from UBS and became an internal whistleblower. After a company review of its malpractice turned into a whitewash, Birkenfeld sued UBS and was given a payout of 575,000 Swiss francs.

He then decided to provide the information that he had to the U.S. Justice Department, telling his lawyers that his job had been to help wealthy American citizens “hide their money, avoid paying taxes, deceive spouses and business partners, and in effect defraud the U.S. government.”[6]

According to Birkenfeld, UBS “not only encouraged these practices [but] trained us all on the methods of secret solicitation, as well as on how to dupe American federal authorities.”[7]

In July 2008, Birkenfeld testified on the malfeasance of his and other Swiss banks before the U.S. Senate.[8]

He thought that he would be welcomed by the Department of Justice lawyers as “an American patriot, a virtual Paul Revere”; instead, he was treated with hostility by them.

A key reason is that UBS was very well connected politically. President Barack Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, for example, had been a partner at the well-connected law firm of Covington & Burling, one of whose biggest clients was UBS.

The chairman of UBS’s America Division, Robert Wolf, was also a golfing partner and the 12th largest donor to President Obama who may have lobbied to help ensure that no UBS executives were prosecuted by the Department of Justice—only the whistleblower Birkenfeld.[9]

According to The New York Times, Wolf raised over $500,000 for Obama’s election in 2012 and he served as an informal adviser to Obama after being appointed to the Economic Recovery Advisory Board from 2009-2011, the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness from 2011-2013, the Export Council from 2014-2016, and the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Border Infrastructure Task Force in 2012. In 2017, Wolf was named to the board of directors for the Obama Foundation and chairs the foundation’s audit and risk committee.

When Birkenfeld learned that the Department of Justice would be prosecuting him and not his bosses, he said it was “like being thunderstruck by the revelation that your entire family had banded together, taken out a $5 million insurance policy on your life, and hired a hit man to put a bullet in the back of your skull.”[10]

Later on, Birkenfeld learned of a secret deal cut by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey to resettle some Uyghur terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in Switzerland in exchange for protecting the 19,000 American account holders in UBS, some of whom were big-time donors to the Clinton Foundation.[11]

Soon after this deal was struck, Bill Clinton was paid $1.52 million by UBS for a series of fireside chats with the bank’s Wealth Management Chief Executive, Bob McCann—Clinton’s biggest payday since leaving the presidency.

Most of Birkenfeld’s clients ultimately admitted to their guilt, signed on to amnesty programs, paid their fines and back taxes, and remained safe from any public revelations.

Igor Olenikoff pled guilty to a single felony count of filing a false tax return for 2002 and got off with a $52 million fine, which for him was small change.

But the Feds threw the book at Birkenfeld, who believed that DoJ lawyer Kevin Downing had a “psychotic obsession” with him.[12]

During sentencing after his conviction, Birkenfeld was given more than three years in prison despite the judge receiving a supporting letter from Senator Carl Levin who said that the information he provided to the Senate subcommittee on banking that he headed was accurate, and enabled the subcommittee to initiate its investigation into the practices of UBS.

He received another letter of support from Robert Khuzami, Director of the Division of Enforcement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), who said that Birkenfeld’s whistleblowing and cooperation with the SEC had resulted in a successful civil suit against UBS that brought $200 million in penalties to the SEC, while preventing UBS from further violating federal securities laws.[13]

Two-Tiered Justice System

According to Birkenfeld, the U.S. Treasury loses $100 billion each year in tax revenues from off-shore tax abuses.[14]

These are not victimless crimes, as this money could be put to good use in funding education, health care, public transportation and environmental clean-up in the U.S., which is urgently needed.

Birkenfeld’s story exposes at once both the corruption and venality of global bankers and the blithe disregard for the common good among America’s one percent of earners.

It also shows the two-tiered nature of the U.S. justice system, which goes after whistleblowers while granting impunity to those against whom they blow the whistle.

An even more tragic case then Birkenfeld is that of Daniel Hale, who faced 45 months in jail for leaking documents exposing the criminality of the U.S. drone war, and Julian Assange, who faces the prospect of life in prison for exposing war crimes by leaders who will probably never see the inside of a jail cell that they so richly deserve.

 

https://covertactionmagazine.com/2023/11/22/corruption-of-u-s-justice-department-and-the-two-tiered-justice-system-the-case-of-whistleblower-bradley-birkenfeld/

 

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