One of my favorite LinkedIn groups is CompliancEx. Why? Because the discussions are some of the most interesting and lively. For example, a post today reports that a former Goldman Sachs bond trader, Deeb Amin Salem, is suing his former employer because his bonus was “only” $8,250,000.
From what we can piece together, Salem was helping the bank make billions while the economy was crashing. He thinks that for his efforts in helping an already bloated Wall Street make even more money, he should have received an extra $5 million in his bonus check.
The author of the post, Jack Kelly, points out that Salem will find it difficult to find a sympathetic jury. There are few people in New York that haven’t had a family member lose a home, face foreclosure or lose their job. These are the folks that will be sitting to judge Salem’s allegations that he was shorted on his bonus.
It is precisely this level of greed and arrogance that blinds many people on Wall Street. That greed and arrogance often leads to fraud… toxic loans, bad mortgages and misuse of TARP monies. We are certainly not accusing Mr. Salem of these things, he was just a bond trader. But his apparent attitude can be found at all levels of Wall Street investment bankers. And that often leads to fraud.
The title of this post suggests there is a connection to whistleblowers. There is.
As long as greed motivates those that lead our major financial institutions, fraud will follow. And that means plenty of opportunities for whistleblowers. Folks like Sherri Hunt, a quality control supervisor at Citi Mortgage. She claimed Citi tried to sell a pool of toxic mortgages. When Citi couldn’t sell them to other banks they simply lied about their quality and asked the government to guarantee them. Many defaulted shortly thereafter leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.
Sherri got tired of the fraud, became a whistleblower and was awarded $31 million for her information. Citi settled the case by returning $158 million to the government.
We represent the estate of Peter Belli, a former branch manager of Allied. Based on his whistleblower lawsuit, HUD intervened and claims that Allied Home Mortgage owes the government $2.4 billion. (Allied is contesting the claims.)
Luckily for taxpayers, there continues to be a steady stream of concerned people – whistleblowers – who are willing to step up to stamp out fraud and corruption on Wall Street and on Main Street.
Whistleblower lawsuits have generated collections of approximately $14.5 billion in past 4 years. Frauds by banks account for much of that recovery.
Every successful whistleblower lawsuit means money for taxpayers. The money goes back to the federal agency that was defrauded, which in turn saves money for taxpayers, and sends a powerful message to would be fraudsters. False claims act violations can result in triple damages further deterring fraudulent behavior.
While taxpayers and the government were certainly winners, the whistleblowers (called “relators”) were also big winners. On average, whistleblowers receive 20% of whatever is collected by the government.
We believe that whistleblowers are government’s most effective weapon in the government’s battle to detect fraud. We also believe that whistleblowers are genuine heroes. Everyone complains about fraud and government waste. But whistleblowers stand up and take action. If Mr Salem’s lawsuit against Goldman Sachs is any indication of the mood on Wall Street, there will continue to be plenty of opportunities for whistleblowers in the days ahead.
To become a whistleblower, one must have original source information about fraud to a government program. Think that might be you? Give us a call.
Whistleblower cases are handled on a contingency (success) fee basis. All inquiries are kept in strict confidence.
Whistleblower photo courtesy of Dave Winer – scriptingnews