Wells Fargo fired the whistleblowers who reported massive fraud, and that's a crime

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/22/wells-fargo-fired-the-whistleb.html


Whistleblower protection that merely protects your position at a corrupt organization seems like really weak whistleblower protection. What whistleblowers really need is a secure and clear communications channel to a trusted regulatory body that can weigh the merits of the case, then, if it looks good, offer them something like witness protection, i.e. monetary assistance and help setting up in a new, non-corrupt organization.


I"m going to skirt the edge of Godwin’s law* by saying that this reminds me a bit of a scene in the movie The Killing Fields where the Khmer Rouge announce that they are looking for help from trained doctors and the next day those who came forward are dead. It looks like to a real degree the whistle blower program was used to ferret out malcontents not willing to break the law.

  • Since I’m invoking Pol Pot rather than Hitler.

This is a bigger shitstorm than the bailout.


who presses charges here, and when is it going to happen?


It is strange, but the funny thing is that if you are a whistleblower, and your complaint is valid, the company can’t get rid of you. Technically, they’re “stuck with you” AND they can’t do anything about it. They have you pay you, and cannot demote you or whatever. They can adjust your job or prevent you from doing work, as long as they say it’s equivalent, and yes, your reputation within the company is usually ruined, but the law says that companies can’t do anything to whistleblowers.

As noted here, though, they often DO do something to whistleblowers. Then the whistleblowers have to go through OSHA to sue the company, which is a long process.


Truth is that a whistleblower who is right and exposes unlawful behavior on the part of a corporation should not have to change their life around as a result! They aren’t the criminal, and a corporation shouldn’t be a threat like a criminal organization would be.

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just wait…the reality is I am sure WF isn’t the only one doing this sort of thing.


um…nobody and never. Haven’t you been keeping up with current events? Googling “regulatory capture” is an exercise left to the reader.


Is it? I mean, that’s what’s been bothering me about this whole debacle. It’s easy to understand what went wrong here. It’s easy to identify specific individuals who were harmed, and by how much (for the most part). It’s also easy to point to the offending operators and the clearly fraudulent actions they took. This is gross, but obvious. The scary thing about the financial collapse is that, despite TBs of audio, video, and text explainers, it’s still not clear and easy to communicate why, or even that what the banks were doing was wrong, and what exactly the fallout was, and how we can change things to stop it in the future.

This current shitstorm is good because it further erodes banks reputation as operating in some kind of “service” to the economy at large, and to the idea that we have to let them operate unrestrained in order to reap the benefits, but I hope it doesn’t also distract from the legal things that banks do that is destructive in more insidious ways .


J.F.C. 2M!

Wouldn’t that be a states’ Attorney General?


What makes it such a shitstorm is that wrong is easily understood and identified, the politics is even more clearly divided and obvious, and it will continue to snowball as more and more comes out. Even now the Democrats are siding behind Warren while the GOP is… pointing out that the Clinton Foundation accepted payment for making speeches, criticizing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for taking so long to act, and otherwise remain stone-cold silent (ignoring their strong support for removing the CFPB prior to Wells Fargo).

We also don’t know that anything will happen, which would make everything that much worse. Hell, this is the one topic I cannot find anything Trump has said about even though I can easily find him taking back his statement that Obama is a US national.


Which will forever be referred to as “Waterston’s Law” (or do we prefer “McCoy’s Law”?)

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Too many golf course buddies that he wouldn’t think of embarrassing. Best to keep schtum.

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The corporate Human Resources Culture has thousands of dodgy ways to get rid of employees it considers disloyal, too expensive, too old, too dark, not cheerful enough, etc, etc. Make enough petty and obscure rules and suddenly everyone has broken at least one, which is ready to be enforced under the right circumstances.

It’s not surprising that this scumbag CEO and his sleazy minions would try to employ them and think they could get away with it in this case. Sadly, the most likely result will not be jail time but GOP politicians whinging about the big bad state trying to “force” poor ol’ corporations to keep on employees they don’t want.


The answer is, give whistleblowers a percentage of the fine collected for illegal activities. This would be a boon for achieving good corporate behavior in general, but alas, like cops wearing bodycams, there would be furious if nonsensical resistance from corporations who believe they are above the law.


“Yeah, but what crimes have they committed for me lately?” --Strumpf


The degree with which fraud has been normalized as a standard business practice here reminds me of both mortgage brokers during the RE bubble and corrupt government officials in the third world.


I found this of interest:

Section 1107 of the SOX 18 U.S.C. § 1513(e) states:[45]

Whoever knowingly, with the intent to retaliate, takes any action harmful to any person, including interference with the lawful employment or livelihood of any person, for providing to a law enforcement officer any truthful information relating to the commission or possible commission of any federal offense, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

So if they hadn’t gone to a “law enforcement officer” but had blown the whistle in some other way, no issues with getting rid of them? How many whistleblowers knew this is the only way to do it and not get fired?

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Normally I’m fairly critical of Cory’s class-war posts, but by God, if there’s a bank that deserves to be first up against the wall when the revolution comes, Wells-Fargo is fighting hard to be it.

While I’m certain that the CEO will never face any meaningful criminal action, there is a pretty decent chance that public humiliation will act as incentive for other CEO’s to rein themselves in a little. Let’s hope the heat stays on Wells Fargo for a little while before the public loses interest.

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