In spite of the stormy weather in D.C. last week Thursday, our Bank Whistleblowers United press conference got off to a rousing start. William Black and I were able to make it to D.C.; Michael Winston, stranded en route, called in on his cell, and Gary Aguirre joined us by Skype.
Hosted by Campaign for America’s Future Co-Director Robert Borosage kicked it off by pulling no punches: “Millions of Americans were devastated by this financial crisis and the great recession. They then watched the banks get bailed out even as homeowners were left to sink. The banks ended up bigger and more concentrated than ever while most Americans still have not recovered from the ground lost in that recession.”
Introducing our initiative and the proposal we’ve presented to the presidential candidates, he stated, “each risked their careers to blow the whistle on what the FBI termed was an epidemic of fraud on Wall Street.” Introduced first, I explained, “There is no question. We’re talking about accountability. We’re talking about the need to reinstate the rule of law in banking. We need accountability. At one time we had accountability. At one time we had a rule of law. At one time we had the processes in place such that the government would hold those accountable who need to be accountable … and all of us on the Bank Whistleblowers United front, all of us are very concerned about this country and its future … and we are very concerned about the decline of the corporate culture.”
Each one of us told of the incidents of fraud we had witnessed and our futile efforts to stop them. As you know, the outcome for each of us was dismissal and retaliation. Yet, Michael Winston reminded us all of the high ground there was no choice but to take. He added, “Yes, it’s a scary thing that we did and you have to be courageous and act in the face of fear”. He challenged, ”Above being loyal to your bosses you have to be loyal to your principles.”
[tweetthis url=”http://bit.ly/1p1vFlI”]Each one of us told of the incidents of fraud we had witnessed and our futile efforts to stop them. #Whistleblowers[/tweetthis]
Gary J. Aguirre asked, “Are the rules different for those in power? The Rule of Law is something we subscribe to as a nation … yet there’s a profound level of difference in how the government treated Wall Street.”
William K. Black summarized our initiative’s goals and added, “We use the f-word a lot, the five-letter word, ‘fraud,’ that you are supposed to be able to say in polite company … we need to control fraud and those who loot the company for their own personal enrichment…You don’t get pervasive fraud unless people in the company turn a blind eye … Our system of checks and balances is a fake. We live in an era of massive corruption.”
Tune in for more comments, viewer and press questions.
In fact, some real traction is coming from Congress and the Senate itself. The Government Accountability Office (GAP) recently informed me that Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) have introduced the Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Non-Retaliation Act of 2016 (WARN Act). The bill will provide much needed anti-retaliation rights and whistleblower protection for those who challenge fraud. GAP and I agree that this bill could not be timelier. It looks as if we are all taking firm, cohesive steps to stop Wall Street fraud and help those who report it once and for all.
“The WARN Act is a much-needed makeover to modernize primitive laws, establish consistent legal rights, and address lessons learned from recent experience. This is good government legislation at its best,” said Sharon Devine of WhistleBlower.org.
Bank Whistleblowers United joined GAP and many other organizations in sending a joint letter to the leadership of the House Oversight Committee applauding introduction of the WARN Act and urged its swift passage.
As agencies with limited resources continue to prosecute Wall Street fraud tied to the 2008 financial crisis, and to probe abusive banking activities that could fuel the next crisis, the government needs all the help it can get from insiders with firsthand knowledge of corporate malfeasance. The WARN Act provides much-needed incentives and protections to industry whistleblowers, and would go a long way toward restoring public confidence in the government’s oversight of Wall Street. We urge you to pass this important legislation without delay (the full letter can be viewed here).
The outcome of the press conference in just a short time is gratifying. There’s been media coverage and, above all, conversations that are getting our proposed initiatives into the right hands. If you haven’t yet read our proposals please do.
In fact take this a step further, call your Representatives. Urge them to get involved. And come fall, cast your vote for the candidate who’s not been bought by The Too Big to Fail banks and who will once and for all stop Wall Street fraud.
[tweetthis url=”http://bit.ly/1p1vFlI”]Cast your vote for the candidate who’s not been bought by The Too Big to Fail banks. #tbtf #wallstreet[/tweetthis]