Mr. Birkenfeld was the UBS banker who blew the whistle on UBS and thereafter the other Swiss banks plying the U.S. tax evasion market. He received a $104 million whistleblower award and a prison sentence. But what he really wants is some form of vindication in addition to $104 million.
But Birkenfeld, 50, a big man with a brash style and a temper, isn't done with the U.S. Department of Justice. He's on a quest, he said, to force the government to explain why it was so aggressive in prosecuting him, but let nearly everyone else involved in the scam get off with light penalties or none at all.
Now Birkenfeld is telling his story exclusively to CNBC. Wealthy, out of prison and soon to be removed from federal probation, he says he's now free to explain how he came to be the man who ended the tradition of bank secrecy and got rich in the process.