Every once in a while I ask myself if I’m making any headway in getting the attention of Congress’ Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Affairs Committee. You may recall, this last year when I appeared on Bloomberg, I asked for a Congressional investigation into the “Too Big to Fail” malfeasance. Even though I keep making noise, as I consider it critical that Congress takes steps to investigate and hold those responsible accountable, nothing concrete had yet happened.
You know my story and my views by now. If we don’t hold the big banks and others who were responsible for our most recent financial meltdown, we’ve essentially given them license to act in the same way again. And I do believe the handwriting is on the wall, which is why I welcomed the opportunity to work with The Other 98% and The Rules, which recently launched a major campaign to encourage Wall Street whistleblowers to come forward when they see wrongdoing within their banks, the subject of one of my recent posts.
And so this week, I believe some progress has been made which has me pretty optimistic; well, ok, somewhat optimistic.
The Congress Blog has published my op-ed on what I believe is needed to bring the 2008 perpetrators to justice. In combination with this piece having been posted on The Hill, I definitely see this as a step in the right direction. The message is getting some traction. And perhaps, decision makers in Congress will sit up, listen, and act.
I was very clear in this message: “The thieves of Wall Street who crashed our economy are not immune from criminal prosecution. The new leadership of the Department of Justice has telegraphed a new priority: No longer are financial institutions too big to fail or jail. In a recent policy statement, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates stated the DOJ will now pursue alleged corporate criminals “regardless of whether they commit their crimes on the street corner or in the boardroom….we mean it when we say, ‘You’ve got to cough up the individuals.’”
I’ve mentioned the study released by Notre Dame’s and the Labaton Sucharow law firm, and why I was so concerned about Congress’ failure, the Department of Justice’s failure, frankly everyone’s failure, because we are not, as citizens, speaking up as we should. My concern is that if we don’t prosecute those responsible for what happened in 2008 and jail those who are guilty, we are opening the door to increased violations.
The study substantiated this view when it released the results of the largest survey of employees of banks and finance companies ever conducted. The results were chilling: Nearly one third of all employees with less than ten years of experience would engage in felonies if they thought they could get away with it and of all employees surveyed, one fourth would do the same. That doesn’t bode well for future financial services accountability.
And so, for this op-ed to appear in the Congress Blog- well, surely some of these key decision makers read it? Surely some will pay attention? Perhaps even the individuals responsible for the House Committee on Financial Services, chaired by, Jeb Hensarling (R–TX), and the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Richard Shelby (R-AL)?
After all, these are the committees that oversee the entire financial services industry, the securities, insurance banking and housing industries, the work of the Federal Reserve, the United States Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and other financial services regulators.
Perhaps, my friends, a Congressional investigation will finally take place. I’m optimistic.
Another piece of good news…
Our University of Texas at Dallas student newspaper, The Mercury, also published my story. The cover story is a pretty comprehensive accounting of why I blew the whistle on Citigroup and what I hope to accomplish by it.
Good news, because as other studies show, and as I recently spoke about in a recent post, if we hear and learn about ethics, there is a tendency to be more ethical and accountable. Our students at UT Dallas are from all over the world. This message is a critical one. Perhaps learning what happened to me and of the work I am now doing could prevent these young people from being entrapped in a position within an organization that does not encourage responsible guidelines. And, quite the opposite, it flaunts the lack thereof.
If my story can prevent one statistic, one situation of an individual standing by and doing nothing, well, I feel I’ve accomplished a great deal.
Let’s see what happens. Maybe you could even call your congressman or congresswoman and ask, “Hey, have you read Bowen’s op-ed in your Congress Blog? What are we going to do about this?”
[tweetthis url=”http://bit.ly/1GN84Nm”]If my story can prevent one statistic, well, I feel I’ve accomplished a great deal. #whistleblowing ~ @RichardMBowen[/tweetthis]