It looks as if Whistleblow Wall Street, the campaign about which I wrote last week and am involved with, is getting off the ground in a big way. Several newspapers and media outlets are reporting on the campaign, some more favorably than others.
This Sunday’s New York Post, headlined its business section feature article,“Billboards urge Wall Street employees to report financial crimes.” It went on to say, “the NYPD asks if you see something, say something. And now a bunch of Wall Street gadflies are similarly seeking help in sniffing out weapons of financial destruction.”
By the way, the dictionary defines gadfly as “a fly that bites livestock,” as well as “an annoying person, especially one who provokes others into action by criticism.”
That’s an interesting description as we are all about provoking justice.
Annoying? Yes, to some. I imagine billboards all over Wall Street asking employees to turn in those they see guilty of malfeasance is annoying to those on Wall Street. The Post is exactly right in saying that the purpose of WhistleBlowWallStreet.com is to help sniff out weapons of financial destruction. Those of us who helped kick off this campaign are very concerned about the future of this country and what could happen if Wall Street is not curbed.
Part of the campaign’s purpose is to provide those who believe their firms are conducting themselves improperly a safe venue to report those actions. The Post states, “This latest campaign casts a wider net, from the boardroom to the mailroom clerk.” They also quote bank analyst Dick Bove of Rafferty Capital Markets who likens the campaign to “a continuation of the same-old since the financial crisis: a Stalinist-style witch hunt. Cost-cutting banks are in a vulnerable spot,” he warned.
“If a bank employee is correct and turns up a problem, he can make a few million bucks,” Bove conceded. “The banking industry is ripe at present for unsettled people to react in this environment. Basically, the failure to generate enough new revenues is pressing down hard on bank costs. And the most effective way to deal with this is by firing people.”
Our aim is to rein in corruption. It is certainly not going to be a popular campaign for those who may have something to hide.
[tweetthis]#WhistleBlowWallStreet is not a popular campaign for those w/ something 2 hide. #tbtf #wallstreet #wbws[/tweetthis]
And that’s good news.
Whistleblow Wall Street is taking pretty strong steps to call the Department of Justice to account. This well-funded and well-staffed campaign includes attorneys provided by the Government Accounting Project, so that responses are thoroughly vetted. Frivolous or exaggerated claims will not be tolerated.
The campaign coincides with the seventh anniversary of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Wall Street’s bailout for the 2008 financial crisis. We’re encouraging bank employees to take action against illegal financial activity and teaching whistleblowers about their rights and helping them find legal representation.
The Post says, “the organizers have downplayed the potential payouts for whistleblowers, emphasizing justice must be done.” Yes, this campaign is about justice. The monetary reward is certainly not the end game. The SEC only gives monetary awards to cases that result in SEC enforcement actions with penalties greater than $1 million and only if the information given is valid.
The payout for most whistleblowers is negligible compared to the damage done to them when you consider what they lose. Whistleblowing is not a lucrative position, providing benefits and stock options. Whistleblowers often lose their job, lose the ability to get work in that profession again, and incur significant collateral damage to family and health that are not reimbursable.
The financial meltdown of 2008 has hurt our economy and it has hurt the smaller banks. It’s the smaller banks — our community banks — that have the heaviest burden and are hard pressed to keep up with the regulation changes and requirements. Many have had to consolidate; more than a few have gone out of business. Complying with the regulations that have resulted from the 2008 debacle is costly.
Smaller banks are the hardest hit as they have to keep up with regulations and training employees on these regulatory changes. Required disclosures are costly in terms of time and money. Jobs have been lost as a result.
As I say often, we can’t continue ignoring the fact that exorbitant settlements paid to the Department of Justice were paid to get Wall Street crooks off the hook. They collected their $200 and got their “get out of jail free” card, unlike the S&L crisis of the 1980s which resulted in more than 1,000 prosecutions, and over 800 bankers jailed. They’ve ignored the fact that this Wall Street meltdown almost took down the world’s economy.
This campaign is designed to get justice and hold the Department of Justice accountable to what they promised. And, yes, it is bound to annoy some, but not the innocent.
[tweetthis]Exorbitant settlements paid 2 #DOJ were 2 get #WallStreet crooks off the hook. ~@RichardMBowen #wbws[/tweetthis]