'Yellowstone' Star Kevin Costner Denies Hiding Millions In Secret Swiss Bank Account
Kevin Costner says allegations he hid millions in a secret Swiss bank account are absurd, and he went to court to fight the claim.
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, Costner is demanding the lawsuit filed by a man named Bradley Birkenfeld be dismissed.
Birkenfeld, a famous whistleblower who helped recover billions of taxpayer dollars, claims he had his tell-all-book derailed by Kevin Costner and billionaire Leonard Lauder when they threatened legal action over his mention that they each held secret bank accounts worth millions of dollars.
Costner blasts Birkenfeld calling him a “convicted felon who admitted conspiring to defraud the US government out of taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars, who admitted smuggling diamonds into the country in a toothpaste tube, and who served time in federal prison.”
The actor says Birkenfeld now lives overseas and travels the world giving speeches on tax fraud.
He claims, “In an apparent gambit to raise his own profile and continue to seek his “fifteen minutes of fame,” Birkenfeld has repeatedly spread outrageous malicious lies claiming that Defendant Kevin M. Costner supposedly hid millions of dollars in a secret UBS Swiss bank account to evade US taxes. Birkenfeld has done so despite the fact that Mr. Costner never had any UBS Swiss account or any offshore accounts whatsoever”
Costner says it is not even necessary to “delve into the provably false allegation” against him, but is demanding the case simply be thrown out for being filed in the wrong state.
Earlier this year, Birkenfeld sued the actor and billionaire Leonard Lauder in federal court. In his suit, Birkenfeld claims he wrote a book in 2016 called "Lucifer's Banker," about his work in the banking industry and his role as "a world-renowned whistleblower."
Birkenfeld claims he "voluntarily disclosed to multiple United States law enforcement authorities and the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (“PSI”) the existence of 19,000 Americans with secret, offshore, undeclared, numbered bank accounts at UBS, Switzerland, an offshore mecca for billionaires, to evade United States income taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes, or otherwise engage in illegal conduct."
He says his work with the government helped recover "more than $20 billion from American taxpayers in back taxes, fines, and penalties."
When Birkenfeld submitted the manuscript for his book, it identified Lauder and his mother — THE Josephine Esther “Estée” Lauder — "as owners of secret, offshore, undeclared bank accounts at UBS, Switzerland."
The original manuscript also contained reference that Kevin Costner "had a $20 million account in the Private Banking Unit [of UBS]."
Birkenfeld also claims he also gave testimony under oath about the account to the U.S. Department of Justice, IRS, SEC, and the PSI."
But in September 2016, just before the book was to be published, Birkenfeld claims lawyers for Lauder and Costner separately sent letters to his publisher threatening legal action "unless references to them as owners of secret, offshore, undeclared, numbered accounts at UBS, Switzerland in Lucifer’s Banker were censored."
He claims Costner's letter "falsely asserted" that the star "never had an account with UBS...[M]y client never had any account with UBS and has never had any offshore bank account."
Lauder's letter, Birkenfeld claims, said the accounts complied with United States and Swiss law and "falsely insinuated that Defendant LAUDER and his mother Estée Lauder never owned a secret, offshore, undeclared numbered account at UBS, Switzerland."
References to both Costner and Lauder were eventually removed from the book, which Birkenfeld claims "substantially diminished the newsworthiness and global sales" of the book.
He also claims the demands delayed publication, caused his publisher to destroy tens of thousands of previously printed books, required him to hire an additional attorney to vet the book, damaged his reputation, and forced him to increase his literary insurance to $3 million.
Birkenfeld is suing seeking damages in excess of $75,000.