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Lucifer’s Banker: The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  517 ratings  ·  51 reviews
As a private banker working for the largest bank in the world, UBS, Bradley Birkenfeld was an expert in Switzerland’s shell-game of offshore companies and secret numbered accounts. He wined and dined ultrawealthy clients whose millions of dollars were hidden away from business partners, spouses, and tax authorities. As his client list grew, Birkenfeld lived a life of money ...more
Kindle Edition, 322 pages
Published October 30th 2016 by Greenleaf Book Group Press
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Nov 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: actual-trash
I’m just going to come right out and say it: this book has a Grade 1 ick factor.

I want to burn this book. If I became a whistleblower and got awarded $104 million, I would spend it purchasing every copy of this book and burn them. And then print copies just to burn them again.

I hate this guy for so many reasons. He refers to himself as "a real American tax hero" with a straight face. More than once. He clearly sees himself as a badass Wild West gunslinger (the word "gunslinger" actually got use
Xavier Shay
Dec 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In the hands of a good journalist this could have been 5 star material. Author becomes investment banker, makes a killing in Switzerland helping US citizens evade taxes, whistleblows the whole thing, spends 3 years in jail, gets $100M reward from the IRS for the largest ever recovery of taxes.

Unfortunately the author spends the entire book trying to convince you that he's a rich angry douche bag, and it's nearly unreadable. I was begging the judge to put him away.
Book Him Danno
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tell all story by a former American banker who worked for the Swiss bank UBS. The information he provided broke the Swiss banks secrecy and made it possible for the US Government to obtain previously withheld banking information for US citizens. Although he was prosecuted, and served prison time, he was given a whistle blower reward over $104 million based on the amount of taxes collected by the IRS. Should he have been sentenced to prison? That is up to each reader to decide after reading the ...more
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lucifer’s Banker by Bradley Birkenfeld (3 Stars)

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

This tell-all tale of Swiss banking and tax evasion by the super-wealthy is written in the same vein as Frank Abagnale’s Catch Me If You Can. You need to get past the author’s arrogance (and, wow, there’s a lot of that!), self-serving interests and smarter than thou attitude and just take in the story. At the beginning, I was ready to just give
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my. Rarely have I so strongly disliked an author after only a few pages. And yet, despite that, I found it an interesting read. Perhaps because it reinforced my stereotype of Switzerland:: fast cars, fast women, fast fortunes, all fueled by dirty money. While a visit to Geneva has disabused me of this prejudice, that’s the kind of life Birkenfeld chose for himself. He likes to portray himself as a whistleblower who defied powerful institutions to protect the people, but he discovered his ethi ...more
Gary F
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Nothing more than a vanity project

Hugely disappointing book that I was really looking forward to reading. Instead of giving inside info on the inner workings of Swiss banking and the fraud associated with it we get a nonstop rant by a guy who seems every bit as unlikable as the criminals he exposed. So much of this book really seems shallow and incoherent so don't make same mistake I made and buy it thinking it will be one of those great inside story expose. The hypocrisy of the author it's pre
The book seems like a very subjective take and I have no time to dig deeper. Birkenfeld claims to have brought UBS to its knees by blowing the whistle on their recruitment of and banking practices for wealthy American clients hiding assets from the IRS. I don’t know if others were involved. Birkenfeld does a great job of simplifying the process and the players. Since UBS settled with the USG, I don’t believe citizens in rule of law countries can hide their assets in Switzerland like they used to ...more
Athan Tolis
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, biography
It is nigh-on impossible to like Bradley Birkenfeld. I almost quit reading his book more than once, because I really could not stand him. He comes across as vapid, self-centered, self-aggrandizing, juvenile, sexist and, frankly, dumb. His favorite topic, right through the book, is his good self. The way he sees it, the world revolves around him. And it largely consists of cars, cigars, legs and swimming pools.

More damningly, and for all the talk about right and wrong, the impression I came away
Used 25% rule and dropped this book. Skimmed through the remaining 75% to get to the end. Good for him that he got reward, he deserves it but book is written very badly and it doesn't help that guy is narcissistic snob. If you can't root for the central character then there is no hope. When I took the book all I wanted to know was how Swiss handle their bank affairs and secrecy, intricate relationship with IRS. from private bankers perspective if he would have gone much deeper into his emotional ...more
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, biography
I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

This is a scary insight into the world of banking.
An absolutely amazing read which will leave you wondering who should you trust with your money!!
This may leave you hating the author.
Nefertiti Strong
It is rare to read a brutally honest story that has such a close reflection up the systems of government at play in our day to day lives.
The average American has no clue what their tax dollars should be doing or could be doing. If wealthy people & corporations were willing to pay what they weigh our society would be less desperate for the basics, but they are incentivized by corrupt officials whom only seek to keep their homes and cars paid for / bank accounts padded of the working class.

I read
Debbie's Book Vlog
Really liked this book and its insight into Swiss banking. Really, it makes me a little afraid of what banks might really be like.

Bradley is an American citizen living in Switzerland and is a private banker. Attracting hundreds of million of $$$ the private world of Swiss banking. Eventually circumstances become such that Bradley decides to become a whistle-blower in the US and expose the long hidden secrets of private banking in Switzerland. Eventually winning a $104 million whistle blower paym
Abu Sesay
Author so insufferable and self absorbed that it made me question the veracity of the details (note: "veracity of the details") of the story, which looked to be a great one in the making. I came in with higher hopes. Almost every page is laced with putting himself over as a James Bond redux. I'm also not saying the arrogance of the author alone is what turned me off from the read; it was his masturbatory ramblings that frustrated me. I'm not even one to go off on tangents of his line of work. Yo ...more
John Christmas
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bradley Birkenfeld's whistleblowing against UBS was an important event on multiple levels. In this autobiographical retelling, he explains what he exposed in the Swiss system of bank secrecy and also what his whistleblowing revealed about the United States Department of Justice. Switzerland is helping non-Swiss people evade taxes in their home countries, and depositors beware because your secrets might not stay secret forever! Regarding the USA, the reader sees how a huge corporation like UBS ca ...more
Tyler Wright
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly impressive book, the author lays out his entire career from the states to Switzerland. A lot of unraveling to what truly happen in swiss secrecy but well worth the read. Birkenfield gives empowering evidence to all his account with UBS, Credit Sussie, and State Street. A good read for someone who is in the financial industry or banking. Also a good read for someone interested in american banking laws and trials and tribulations!
Arthur Smid
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I saw this one on the shelves and passed on reading until I read about it in Moneyland and then found it to be a very worthwhile book, given what Oliver Bullough excerpts and says about it in his book, it doesn't seem like he actually read it because he didn't have the understanding of why the Feds went after Birkenfeld and that's further in, Birkenfeld, he really went hard, it's not easy to do what he did and I don't think there's ever been a banker like him. His story is a goddamn movie!
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book read like fiction but is a true story. Using a breezy, casual tone the author brings the reader through the complex world of secret Swiss banking, leaving you with a deeper understanding of this mysterious high rolling world. Throughout the story I felt like I was there living it with him. (Just my opinion.)
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it
This is, in my view, more a story about the author's experience with what he calls "corruption" in sections of the US government than Swiss bank secrecy itself. Perhaps I have some inherent views and biases as a Swiss resident, but that is what I think.

It moves at breakneck speed and some of the (Boston?) phrases used to describe situations are pretty colourful.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author comes off as an extremely arrogant and exorbitantly rich, but the story is quite interesting and not something I was even remotely aware of until reading this book. It's interesting to read about all of the perceived tie-ins to various political figures and parties and how they relate with the corporations mentioned.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite. Author is someone I could not admire for being a whistle blower (self-serving, arrogant, played the same system until it no longer wanted him, then he needed revenge). But at the same time Yeah! I'm glad someone made the self serving banking system pay! Ugh!! Worth a read if you are into this type of thing.
If you hold your nose very close to the pages of this book, it's as if you're able to smell the mountains of cocaine the author must have consumed while writing it. Certainly an interesting story, but written in a self-righteous, vengeful and rather chaotic manner. Easy and quick read, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little disjointed reading but what a fascinating story of insight into the workings of the mega rich and the workings of the banks that service those people. Disturbing, insightful, mind-boggling, are all reactions during this reading. You also get a peak into the justice system on a very unique case.
Jean Schindler
Meh — a few interesting details, and definitely a reminder that the Feds can and will happily jail whistleblowers, but overall too much self-aggrandizement, narcissism, and brand-name-checking. Feds put him in jail for the wrong thing. Read “Secrecy World” or “The Panama Papers” instead.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely riveting!

I just couldn't put this down until I finished it - even picking it up at 4am today when I woke up early.

It's very much a true story told extremely well.

Thoroughly recommend this.
Cathy Stanley
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written account of a whistleblower in an elitist banking system. Bradley Birkenfeld, a young American banker, and becomes whistleblower about the secret swiss bank accounts. He spent time in prison and then was released and was awarded $104 Million from the IRS for the information.
Jul 24, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t normally write about books. Just give them my rating. This man/ author is the biggest ass in the world. And the book is written by what seems to be a two year old. Can I get my time back on this one?
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Worth the read and eye opening!
Esequiel Contreras Jr
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!

Would love to hear more about other stories like this one here. Amazon has a few suggestions, I might look into.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read!
Verna Kielich
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book

Well written, intense and very enjoyable romp through high finance and private banking. I could not put it down. Worth every penny.
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