There was a interesting article in today’s New York Post. Titled “Banks Pump Up,” the article contained a cleverly photoshopped graphic of the faces JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan superimposed over the torsos of body builders. Moynihan’s left bicep has an “I love Trump” tattoo.
Some big businesses are happy to have Trump in office. That includes big banks. After years of billion dollar fines and bad press, the “too big to fail” Wall Street crowd is finally making money. (Wells Fargo still is reeling from its phony account fiasco.)
So are big banks out of the woods? Probably not.
Banks aren’t celebrating because they suddenly cleaned up their act. Instead their happiness comes from a perception that regulators will leave them alone for the next 4 years.
We aren’t sure that is true. And even if it is, whistleblowers still have the ability to prosecute bad their behavior.
False Claims Act and Whistleblower Awards
2016 was the year of the whistleblower. The Justice Department paid out $519 million in awards. The SEC also had a record year in awards. Who are behind these awards? Whistleblowers.
Under the SEC Whistleblower program and False Claim Act, insiders with information about fraud are eligible for awards. Whistleblower awards under both program are as high as 30% of whatever is collected from the wrongdoers. With fines often in the millions of dollars, million dollar whistleblower awards are quite common too. This is especially true in the financial services sector.
A separate whistleblower award is available under the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA). Those awards are available for information about wrongdoing by federally insured banks. Presently, those awards are capped at $1.6 million. (There is no cap for False Claims Act and SEC awards.)
Have the banks turned the corner? Maybe in terms of profitability but they get no rewards for good corporate citizenship. Bank of America is telling investors to expect “responsible growth” this year. Unfortunately, we don’t believe the bank has earned the moniker “responsible.”
In our opinion, the senior management of many of the world’s top banks are motivated solely by money. There is nothing wrong with earning a profit. We don’t advocate profits over people, however. Ripping off the public, taxpayers and customers is never acceptable.
Whether a Trump administration means easier sledding for Wall Street remains to be seen. Whistleblowers in the United States, however, are entitled to bring their own actions directly in the name of the government. Our False Claims Act is unique in the world. Even if the government refuses to prosecute, whistleblower actions can usually be prosecuted privately.
If you have inside information about fraud involving federal funds or programs, contact us. All inquiries are always kept confidential. In the last few years, our clients have collected over $100 million in whistleblower awards.
Whistleblowers do make a difference. There is hope for real change. If not by the government then by the people.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers