by Brian Mahany
Unfortunately, story titles such as this one are all too common. Companies should welcome employees who are looking after the long term interests of the business and reporting internal wrongdoing. Unfortunately they often don’t, especially in the financial industry.
According to published reports, a risk manager from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney claims he was fired after reporting problems by one of the brokerage firm’s star performers. Cliff Jagodzinski says he is the victim of retaliation.
According to Jagodzinski’s complaint, he complained to management that one of the firm’s top performers was churning customer accounts. Churning occurs when a stockbroker makes a series of trades on behalf of a customer primarily for the purpose of generating commissions. Jagodzinski says the broker was profiting from the excessive commissions while his customers’ were losing money and being subjected to unnecessary risk.
Why would Morgan Stanley tolerate this? According to Jagodzinski, the firm gave the broker a $25 million sign on bonus and needed to recoup its investment. In other words, if his allegations are correct, the firm put its profitability ahead of their customers.
As a risk officer, one of Jagodzinski’s responsibilities is to monitor the activities of brokers. He says that when he suggested that the broker’s activities be reported to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) he was ignored. Ten days later he was unemployed.
Whistleblowers often face a rough road. Although there are some strong anti retaliation provisions in state and federal law, it is often government whistleblowers who suffer the most.
We don’t know what will happen with Jagodzinski’s complaint. It was just filed in New York and will likely take months to resolve. During that time, of course, he must struggle to provide for himself and any family.
We represent many customers who were hurt by the big Wall Street brokerage firms and banks. The “winner steal all” mentality is still alive and well in the brokerage industry. As one person told InvestmentNews Daily, “Shoot the truth teller, save the big producer and screw the customer. [The industry] has not changed in 30 years.”
If you have been ripped off by a stockbroker, don’t wait to take action. Most claims against stockbrokers can be handled on a contingent fee basis meaning you pay no legal fees unless your lawyers recover money for you. The investment fraud lawyers at Mahany & Ertl have helped many victims get back their hard earned money.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine & Minneapolis, Minnesota. Services available in many jurisdictions.