The media is up in arms today over the revelation that a thief was rewarded millions for snitching on other thieves.

A former corrupt banker ended up reaping the benefits of a law that encourages whistleblowers in the workplace. But sometimes don’t you have to take some bad in order to do greater good?

Here’s how the story played out, according to a Wall Street Journal article today:

Bradley Birkenfeld, 47 years old, began cooperating with U.S. authorities in 2007 while still at UBS. He provided prosecutors with detailed descriptions of the bank’s efforts to promote tax evasion and confessed to running errands for rich clients, including one instance when he sneaked diamonds into the U.S. in a toothpaste tube.

Yes, it makes me sick to my stomach to know this guy is going to end up on easy street because he was sleazy. Alas, we can’t pick and choose the whistleblowers who get the big bucks for snitching. The law says nothing about keeping the money out of excons’ hands.

In an effort to derail the rampant corruption throughout Corporate America, particularly the finance industry that brought down the economy, legislators beefed up whistleblower laws in recent years.

The new law providing monetary rewards for whistleblowers kicked in last year (in addition to scores of federal and states whistleblower protections put in place in recent years). There’s also a growing desire on the part of citizens to step up when they see wrongdoing following an economic downturn largely caused by malfeasance in corporate America. And there has been a beefing up of government enforcement to protect citizens who come forward with their accounts of misconduct from retaliation.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform law created more incentives, including a whistleblower reward that went into effect in August of last year, for employees to step forward, something that’s very difficult for them to do because they can lose their jobs as a result, and many have. The legislation actually calls for financial incentives of up to 30 percent of funds recovered for information employees give regulators that leads to prosecution of securities fraud. (Click here for information from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on how the bounty works.)

I know giving money to this Birkenfeld guy stinks, but sometimes you need to pay a thief to catch a thief, no?

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]