Bloomberg News

Ex-UBS Banker Sues Olenicoff for Malicious Lawsuit

December 05, 2012

A former UBS AG (UBSN) banker who became a whistleblower sued Igor Olenicoff over the California billionaire’s failed lawsuit blaming the banker for his guilty plea to filing a false tax return.

Bradley Birkenfeld, the former UBS banker who won a record whistleblower award for telling the Internal Revenue Service how the bank helped thousands of Americans evade taxes, seeks more than $1 million in damages for malicious prosecution from Olenicoff, according to a complaint filed last month in California state court in Santa Ana. UBS filed a similar complaint against Olenicoff in August.

Olenicoff, who built his fortune as the chief executive officer of Newport Beach, California-based Olen Properties Corp., pleaded guilty in 2007 to filing a false tax return. He admitted that he failed to disclose about $200 million in offshore accounts to the IRS.

After his plea, Olenicoff sued UBS and Birkenfeld in federal court in Santa Ana, California, claiming the Zurich- based bank committed fraud by not telling him he owed taxes. U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford dismissed that case on April 10. The judge said Olenicoff swore in his guilty plea that “he was not an innocent dupe” and he could have pleaded not guilty if UBS misled him.

Rich Americans

Birkenfeld told authorities how UBS bankers came to the U.S. to woo rich Americans, managed $20 billion of their assets and helped them cheat the IRS. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2008, a year after reporting the bank’s conduct to the Justice Department, U.S. Senate, IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission. He left prison on Aug. 1. He secured a whistleblower award of $104 million, the largest individual federal payout in U.S. history, in September.

Tom Newmeyer, a lawyer who represented Olenicoff in the lawsuit against UBS and Birkenfeld, didn’t immediately return a call to his office for comment on Birkenfeld’s complaint.

The case is Birkenfeld v. Olenicoff, 30-2012 00613161, Orange County, California Superior Court (Santa Ana).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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