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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:08 pm

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Wall Street’s Greatest Enemy: The Man Who Knows Too Much
August 30, 2013
by David Dayen

This post first appeared on Salon.

You may know Michael Winston’s story from a series of articles by Gretchen Morgenson in The New York Times, or from a celebrated Frontline episode, “The Untouchables,” about the lack of prosecutions on Wall Street. He was a Ph.D. who rose to the corporate elite, with stints at Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, Motorola and Merrill Lynch. He was recruited to mortgage originator Countrywide Financial with the promise that it wanted to become the “Goldman Sachs of the Pacific,” a full-service global financial corporation.

“They talked about the importance of ethics and principles, and they said they heard I was a high-integrity guy,” Winston tells Salon, noting his father had a vanity plate that read “HONOR.” Winston initially succeeded as enterprise chief leadership officer at Countrywide, getting promoted twice in 14 months and building a team of 200 working on corporate strategy.
But he could not ignore the rot at the heart of the company’s profitmaking approach.

So now, a successful high-level executive for 30 years, he has been embroiled in seven years of lawsuits with Countrywide and the company that bought it, Bank of America. His determination to speak out against multiple violations of law at Countrywide earned him retaliation, and eventually, he was frozen out of corporate boardrooms, unable to find a new job. He won a jury verdict in his case, but after two and a half more years of fighting, an appellate court reversed the ruling in highly unusual circumstances.

“I keep hearing about whistleblower protections,” he tells Salon, exasperatedly. “It certainly didn’t happen for me.”

Now, Bank of America wants to gouge Michael Winston one last time, demanding an interest payment on money awarded to him that he never received.

“Thus far, the person who did the right thing got punished, and the person who did the wrong thing got rewarded,” Winston said. The chilling case shows that the greatest enemy for Wall Street is the man or woman who actually tries to expose its secrets.

* * *
The lesson is clear: If you object to the corrupt practices at financial giants like Countrywide and Bank of America, you will be marginalized and financially ruined. And even if you think you’ve won, over time you will lose.“FUND-EM.” That’s what the license plate read when Winston pulled into Countrywide headquarters at the end of 2005. It was the car of CEO Angelo Mozilo. “What does that mean?” Winston asked a colleague.
“That’s Mozilo’s growth strategy for 2006,” his colleague replied. “We fund all loans.”“What if the borrower has no job?” Winston asked.

“Fund ‘em.”

“What if they have no assets?”

“Fund ‘em.”

“No income?”

“If they can fog a mirror, we’ll give them a loan.”

Winston relayed his fears about this doomed strategy to Drew Gissinger, head of Countrywide Home Loans, offering proposals on how to prioritize customer satisfaction and strong fundamentals over making dicey loans. “I was trying to save Countrywide from itself,” Winston said. These proposals were politely taken and discarded. Later Gissinger would say he never received them.

A separate triggering event had nothing to do with loans, but how Countrywide treated its employees. In addition to selling toxic mortgages, Countrywide also housed its staff in toxic buildings. One in particular, on Tapo Canyon Road in Simi Valley, Calif., was notorious for noxious air, exposed wiring and a generally hideous atmosphere. Winston worked in this building, and he and his team experienced shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. One female employee, 35 weeks pregnant, said she was afraid to work there. Michael himself was struck by a toxic substance coming from an overhead air vent. “I thought I was being poisoned,” he said. This is at a company that made $2.7 billion in net revenue in 2006.

Countrywide claimed that it did an investigation of the air quality and found nothing wrong, when Winston knew it was still taking air samples in his office. Winston confronted his boss over this, and she replied that she lied to “prevent a panic” at the company. That’s when Winston submitted a complaint to California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal-OSHA).

The retaliation was swift. Winston’s team was assigned elsewhere, his budget was cut, and his responsibilities reduced. Winston stayed out of a sense of loyalty to the team he persuaded to join Countrywide. “Everyone I recruited sold their houses in New York and moved to California,” Winston told Salon. “If not for that, I would have been gone at the first sign of trouble. I felt an obligation to them.”

After months of hardship, the president of Countrywide, Dave Sambol, asked him to come to New York and basically lie to the credit rating agency Moody’s about its corporate governance practices. Countrywide had gone without a president and chief operating officer for five months without informing investors, and had delivered top executives outsize compensation. Countrywide wanted Winston to fabricate a story about these practices and deliver it to Moody’s. Winston refused to lie. Three weeks later, the CEO, Angelo Mozilo, demanded Winston’s termination because he wouldn’t break the law. (The termination would not come until 2008, by Bank of America when it bought the company.)

For the next several years, Winston pursued a series of court cases, first against Countrywide and then against its new corporate parent, Bank of America, over the illegal retaliation. Winston and his lawyer, a former prosecutor at the Los Angeles district attorney’s office, saw so many lies from top Countrywide executives at their trial, that they wanted to get criminal charges instituted. Winston’s lawyer actually wrote to then-DA Steve Cooley, but nothing came of it (the DA’s office claimed it was never sent the material).

To use just one of a hundred examples, Mozilo claimed under oath he was “unimpressed” with Winston, despite a large documentary record of praise. “The assumption when someone raises their right hand, you see a check go off in the head of the jury, now we’ll hear the whole truth,” Winston said. “But no part of it was truthful.” In early 2011, after a month-long trial, the jury found in Winston’s favor, awarding him $3.8 million.

Sadly, the story doesn’t end there. First, Bank of America tried to get a “judgment notwithstanding the verdict” in its favor. When a judge tossed that out, the bank “went shopping for justice,” Winston said. The company would eventually find an appellate court in California to conduct a 29-minute hearing with no transcript made of the proceedings, a highly unusual practice. It didn’t bother to hear from Winston – he was 3,000 miles away at the time of the hearing. The court heard no new information in the case, only the two-year-old trial record, filled with “perjurious content” from Countrywide executives, in Winston’s view.

Though legal precedent requires appellate courts to not reevaluate evidence heard by a jury, in this case they did, creating new evidence requirements that they said Winston did not meet. According to the Government Accountability Project, which presented an amicus brief to Winston in the case, “respect for the jury’s determinations is the rule in California and the federal system.” Nonetheless, the appellate court reversed the jury verdict, rescinding the $3.8 million award. The court claimed that Bank of America could not be held liable for Winston’s travails, despite clear legal precedent that it assumed those liabilities when it bought Countrywide. “They reversed my verdict and they broke the law to do it,” Winston said.

* * *
Despite Bank of America taking two years to delay and appeal the verdict, Winston has no right to appeal. He sought a rehearing and then an appeal to the California Supreme Court, to no avail. He’s working on an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that his constitutional rights were violated. “The Constitution gives you the right to a trial by jury. It doesn’t say ‘only if the jury finds in favor of Bank of America,’” said Winston.

The insult on top of injury comes from Bank of America retributively seeking monetary damages from him. It filed in Superior Court to recoup roughly $65,000, allegedly the cost of posting a bond that was ordered by the trial judge after the original $3.8 million jury award. But Bank of America never paid the award to Michael Winston. “I never saw a dime and paid $600,000 in legal fees,” Winston said. The egregious demand for restitution – from a multibillion-dollar company – is a symbol of the vindictiveness of a corporate giant lashing out at someone who dared to expose them.

Winston, 62, has not been able to find work since this ordeal, despite a stellar record over three decades. Bank of America even tried to subpoena speaker’s bureaus Winston had signed up with to tell his story on the lecture circuit, causing those organizations to break ties with him. So the $65,000 is not a trivial amount for him. And the principle of having to pay Bank of America after it put him through hell for years is stinging.

The lesson is clear: If you object to the corrupt practices at financial giants like Countrywide and Bank of America, you will be marginalized and financially ruined. And even if you think you’ve won, over time you will lose. “No one who receives a jury verdict can feel safe,” Winston said. His actions – filing a health and safety complaint and refusing to misrepresent material facts for the company – are supposed to be protected by law. None of that mattered. Says Winston, “If I can’t get this case heard, why would any whistleblower speak up?”


http://billmoyers.com/2013/08/30/wall-street’s-greatest-enemy-the-man-who-knows-too-much/
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:20 am

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(excerpt)
Whistleblowers are not spies or traitors, as the Bush and Obama administration’s lawyers have alleged. They are patriotic and often conservative Americans who work inside the government and with military contractors, and who find unacceptable—and often life-threatening—or illegal behavior goes unheeded when they report it through the traditional chain of command. They worry about doing nothing and feel compelled to go to the press, even if they suspect they may lose their jobs. What they don’t realize is that their lives will never quite be the same again, because they underestimate the years of government persecution that follows.

The documentary portrays the whistleblower as a special kind of American hero—one whose importance is easily forgotten in today’s infotainment-drenched media. Since the Vietnam War in the 1960s, whistleblowers have been part of many history-changing events: questioning the war in Vietnam by releasing the Pentagon Papers on military’s failings; exposing the Watergate burglary that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation; exposing the illegal nationwide domestic spying program by the George W. Bush administration after 9/11; revealing the military’s failure to replace Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan with better bomb-deflecting vehicles, leading to hundreds of deaths and maimings; revealing how the nation’s largest military contractor was building a new Coast Guard fleet with ships whose hulls could buckle in rough seas and putting radios on smaller rescue boats that wouldn’t work when wet.

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties ... ins-record
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:18 am

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Michael Winston
FRONTLINE | The Untouchables
A great many people around the county were rightfully shocked and horrified by the recent excellent and hard-hitting PBS documentary, The Untouchables, which looked at the problem of high-ranking Wall Street crooks going unpunished in the wake of the financial crisis. The PBS piece certainly rattled some cages, particularly in Washington, in a way that few media efforts succeed in doing. (Scroll to the end of this post to watch the full documentary.)

Now, two very interesting and upsetting footnotes to that groundbreaking documentary have emerged in the last weeks.

The first involves one of the people interviewed for the story, a former high-ranking executive from Countrywide financial who turned whistleblower named Michael Winston. You can see Michael's segment of The Untouchables at around the 4:20 mark of the piece. The story Winston told during the documentary is essentially an eyewitness account of the beginning of the financial crisis.

When I spoke to him last week, Winston was still as amazed and repulsed by what he saw at Angelo Mozilo's crooked subprime mortgage company as he was when he worked there. Winston, who had worked for years at high-level positions at companies like Motorola and Lockheed before joining Countrywide in the 2000s, described a moment in his first months at the company, when he rolled into the parking lot at the company headquarters.

"There was a guy there, a well-dressed guy, standing next to a car that had a vanity plate," he said. "And the plate read, 'FUND'EM.'"

Winston, curious, asked the guy what the plate meant. The man laughed and said, "That's Angelo Mozilo's growth strategy for 2006." Here's how Winston described the rest of the story to PBS – i.e. what happened when he asked the man to elaborate:

"What if the person doesn't have a job?"

"Fund 'em," the – the guy said.

And I said, "What if he has no income?"

"Fund 'em."

"What if he has no assets?" And he said, "Fund 'em."

Later on, Winston would hear that the company's unofficial policy was that if a loan applicant could "fog a mirror," he would be given a loan.

This kind of information is absolutely crucial to understanding what caused the subprime crisis. There are people out there still willing to argue that the government somehow "forced the banks to lend" to unworthy applicants. In reality, it was unscrupulous companies like Countrywide that were cranking out loans en masse, knowing that these loans would be unloaded down the line, first to banks and then to sucker investors like pension funds and foreign trade unions, almost as soon as they were created.

Winston was a witness to all of this. Eventually, he would be asked by the firm to present false information to the Moody's ratings agency, which was about to give Countrywide a negative rating because of some trouble the company was having in working a smooth succession from one set of company leaders to another.

When Winston refused, he was essentially stripped of his normal responsibilities and had his corporate budget slashed. When Bank of America took over the company, Winston's job was terminated. He sued, and in one of the few positive outcomes for any white-collar whistleblower anywhere in the post-financial-crisis universe, won a $3.8 million wrongful termination suit against Bank of America last February.

Well, just weeks after the PBS documentary aired, the Court of Appeals in the state of California suddenly took an interest in Winston's case. Normally, a court of appeals can only overturn a jury verdict in a case like this if there is a legal error. It's not supposed to relitigate the factual evidence.

Yet this is exactly what happened: The court decided that the evidence that Winston was wrongfully terminated was insufficient, and then from there determined that the "legal error" in the original Winston suit against Bank of America and Countrywide was that the judge in the case failed to throw out the jury's verdict:

In short, having scoured the record for evidence supporting the jury's verdict on the issue of causation, we have found none. It follows that the trial court erred in denying defendants' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

"I was flabbergasted," Winston says now. "Think of all the hard work the jury did, and [the court] overturns it just like that."

While it's impossible to say just exactly what a fair financial award should be for a person who reports bad corporate activity to the public, it's certainly true that when these whistleblower suits end in failure, it has a chilling effect on other people thinking about coming forward. Not many people are willing to risk their jobs if they think it will cost them every last dime in the end. This is just one more example of how hard it is for whistleblowers to come out even, even if they win jury trials.

That decision came down on February 19th, and is the first of the two interesting post-Untouchables footnotes.

The other involves some of the comments made by the head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, who said (as he has on other occasions, including after the recent non-prosecutions of HSBC and UBS for major scandals) that his Justice Department has to weigh the financial consequences of bringing prosecutions. Quoting from the PBS show, Breuer explained:

But in any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case, there's some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it's a factor we need to know and understand.

When Breuer said that, it raised a serious red flag on the Hill. A number of people in positions of power wanted to know just what "experts" people like Breuer had consulted with before deciding not to press charges in certain cases. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, specifically, sent Attorney General Eric Holder a letter asking a number of questions.

Among other things, the two Senators wanted to know if certain companies had been designated "Too Big to Jail." Then they had a series of very obvious and reasonable questions about those "experts":

4. Please provide the names of all outside experts consulted by the Justice Department in making prosecutorial decisions regarding financial institutions with over $1 billion in assets.

5. Please provide any compensation contracts for these individuals.

6. How did DOJ ensure that these experts provided unconflicted and unbiased advice to DOJ?

Well, at the end of last week, on February 27th, the Department of Justice sent Brown and Grassley a letter in return. The letter is, to describe it very generously, not terribly informative.

Most of the letter is just a long list of the many wondrous accomplishments the DOJ has secured under Eric Holder's watch, including felony manslaughter convictions against BP, or "fraud convictions for a board member of Goldman, Sachs," or the ongoing LIBOR investigation, or the prosecution in the Stanford Ponzi case. But the rest of the letter totally ignores the Brown/Grassley questions, particularly on the matter of which experts were and are being consulted.

On those questions, the DOJ would say only that "it is entirely appropriate for prosecutors to hear from subject matter experts at relevant regulatory authorities" and that . . .

When the Department consults with relevant regulatory authorities, or hears from companies who are targets of the Department's investigations and their counsel regarding potential collateral consequences of enforcement actions, neither those agencies nor the target companies receive any compensation from the Department.

That is one hell of a slippery piece of language. It's great that the Department of Justice is not paying, say, HSBC to consult with them on the question of whether or not HSBC should be prosecuted. What a relief! But that doesn't mean they're not paying someone else for that kind of advice.

The DOJ similarly blew off naming any individual experts and they refused absolutely to turn over information about any compensation they may have paid out to whomever it is who is whispering in their prosecutorial ears.

The two Senators late last week issued a blistering answer to the DOJ letter, saying, "the Justice Department's response is aggressively evasive," and that "the Department's only clear response was that it speaks to regulators and the banks themselves."

The Department of Justice is now saying that it misunderstood the two Senators, that it didn't know that they were asking for the actual names of those experts. Moreover, the Department claims it is working on answers to those queries.

In the meantime, Eric Holder is appearing before the Judiciary Committee this Wednesday, and it will be interesting to see how he handles questioning from Senator Grassley. It may get ugly before the answers actually come out, but it seems that someone is finally determined to get some real information.



Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/bl ... z2OIHABW5x
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http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/bl ... d-20130304
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:22 pm

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When Telling the Truth Becomes a Crime.........3 minute trailer for new documentary about blowing the whistle and destroying lives of truth tellers.


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http://vimeo.com/59191925
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:54 pm

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What do Mark Klein, Frank Serpico, Joseph Wilson, Daniel Ellsberg, Jeffrey Wigand, W. Mark Felt, Julian Assange etc. have in common? They are what we subsume under the term whistleblower. While whistleblowers often become quite famous for the stories they help uncover, seeking fame is not generally their motive for speaking up. But to any general rule there are always exceptions.

How do we treat the so-called whistleblowers once they are identified? Are they heroes for speaking up and opening them selves up to public scrutiny and/or praise? No doubt, the public’s opinion about whistleblowers is marked by the motives behind the whistleblowing. If there’s one thing we like as a people, it’s a whistleblower with an honest and humble motive to speak up against an organization’s misconduct or against the government’s dishonest or illegal activities.

Whistleblowers are not always right but many are. Today, however, there is no affection for whistleblowers from the government or even the media. Those who dare to speak the truth tend to be vilified. The trend seems to be, that it is far more of a crime to speak out against any wrongdoing than the actual wrongdoing itself.

When we recollect the Watergate scandal and consider the important part W. Mark Felt played in uncovering the truth, which ultimately led to President Richard Nixon resigning from office. It is safe to say that few whistleblowers have, to this day, had as much impact as Felt.

Frank Serpico, who helped uncover widespread corruption among cops of the NYPD, was one of the unlucky whistleblowers. He was shot during a “questionable shooting” incident. For him, the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 came too late.

The Whistleblower Protection Act is meant to protect employers of the government who report agency misconduct, from retaliatory personnel action by agency authorities.

This brings us to some of today’s famous whistleblowers Bradley Manning, who was arrested on suspicion of having passed on classified information and material to the website Wikileaks and John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer, who helped expose the Bush administration’s torture program. It is important to note, that Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while those who committed the acts of torture have not been charged until today. As for Manning, the U.S has labeled him a traitor for revealing some of the American military’s shadier practices and held him for three years, before giving him his day in court.

The Whistleblower Protection Act has not served these two men very well. The Obama administration has prosecuted more government officials under the Espionage Act of 1917 for sharing classified information with the media than all previous administrations combined, despite the fact that President Obama vowed to fight for more protection for whistleblowers.

To protect against corruption, the government of the United States was created with checks and balances. Looking at the situation today, the government no longer tolerates any questioning from its citizens. Corruption often goes unchallenged when people don’t speak out about it. Ultimately, institutions, societies and citizens lose out when no one is willing to cry foul in the face of corruption. But the truth is, most whistleblowers go through hell. They pay a great price personally for telling the truth, especially since the government is hell-bent on prosecuting whistleblowers. This should be alarming to us, because these are not the actions of a truly transparent government that has nothing to hide.

Every whistleblowing story is different. But we owe every one of them a big junk of gratitude for making a moral decision to try and expose wrongdoings. Freedom is merely an illusion without the truth.

http://www.progressivepress.net/when-th ... e-scourge/
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:52 pm

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Brad Birkenfeld, the man who blew the whistle on a massive tax evasion scam that cost the U.S. government billions in lost revenue, has been awarded US$104-million by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

The massive payout is understood to be the largest such reward to an individual ever made. It highlights the stark difference between the United States, where even criminal whistleblowers can become fantastically wealthy for selling out their company’s shady tax practices, and Canada, where critics complain there is no incentive to point out wrongdoing.

As an executive at Swiss banking giant UBS AG in Zurich in 2007, Birkenfeld approached the IRS and the information he provided served as the basis for a landmark court case that saw UBS pay a US$780-million settlement and turn over details on thousands of U.S. holders of offshore accounts.


Birkenfeld, now 47, also revealed details of the bank’s operations in Canada.

Evidence presented before a U.S. Senate subcommittee that was looking into the matter included information about a major offshore business in this country run out of UBS’s offices in Switzerland, managing more than $5-billion of Canadian assets at one point.

Related
Tax haven crackdown reaps big rewards
Foreign banks shun U.S. millionaires thanks to tough tax evasion rule
Officials in Ottawa vowed to crack down when the information was reported but so far no Canadian holders of UBS offshore accounts have been successfully prosecuted.

“People realized that it’s a question of time before we get them,” Jean-Pierre Blackburn, then the minister of revenue, told the Financial Post in 2009. “I tell them, we’ll get you, we’ll find you.”

Despite his efforts to secure immunity in the U.S, Birkenfeld was himself caught up in the legal wrangling around UBS and was sentenced to 40 months in prison for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. (He was released on Aug 1.)

According to court documents, UBS bankers in the U.S. trolled art shows, yacht races and other high-end events in search of potential clients looking for ways to avoid paying income tax. As a senior member of the bank’s wealth management team, Birkenfeld had a ring-side seat and also took part, at one point helping a client to stuff diamonds into a toothpaste tube to avoid airport security.

Under U.S. law, such practices are illegal and Birkenfeld reportedly became uncomfortable with what UBS was doing and complained to senior officials at the bank. Birkenfeld claims that it was only when his concerns were ignored that he went to the IRS.

In a statement on Tuesday the U.S. tax authority praised Birkenfeld’s evidence, calling it “comprehensive” and “exceptional in both its breadth and depth. While the IRS was aware of tax compliance issues related to secret bank accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere, the information provided by the whistleblower formed the basis for unprecedented actions against UBS.”

Offshore banks in Switzerland and other tax haven jurisdictions had largely avoided the gaze of tax authorities in countries such as the U.S. and Canada, but that changed in the wake of a series of scandals involving former employees going public with incriminating information and computerized client files.

One of the first tipsters was Heinrich Kieber, a former computer technician at LGT Bank in Liechtenstein, who sold details about account holders to Britain, France and Germany among others. Thanks to Mr. Kieber, the CRA came into possession of details of more than 100 Canadian clients of LGT bank.

The CRA subsequently obtained similar lists of offshore account holders UBS and HSBC.

Because of its efforts to chase after Canadian tax evaders and the publicity around the matter, the CRA says it has collected tens of millions of income tax that it would otherwise not have received.

But critics say it would collect a lot more if took a more aggressive approach, perhaps prosecuting tax evaders in court.

Another strategy employed in the U.S. but not in this country is encouraging whistleblowers to come forward by offering financial rewards— as much as 30% of the tax collected as a result of the information provided.

Indeed, critics frequently complain that far from being rewarded, whistleblowers are more likely to be punished in Canada.

Howard Wetston, chair of the Ontario Securities Commission, raised the possibility of creating a whistleblower program in the securities industry shortly after taking top job at Canada’s largest capital markets regulator in November of 2010. But nearly two years later no such program exists.

Al Rosen, founder of forensic accounting firm Al Rosen & Associates, said the failure of the CRA to aggressively pursue tax dodgers is part of a much larger problem.

“There is no investigation, no prosecution to speak of in Canada,” he said.

Whether it’s the tax authority, financial or securities regulators, there is no will to ensure that players follow the rules.

Mr. Rosen said he recently reported a case of tax fraud to the CRA “but quite likely they won’t even pursue it… [far from giving out rewards for information] they don’t even follow up when you give it to them for free.”

With files from Barbara Shecter
http://business.financialpost.com/2012/ ... irs-award/
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:26 am

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Challenger Shuttle Whistleblower Reflects On Struggle With PTSD
Topics:
USA, AEROSPACE INDUSTRY, NASA, PTSD, MENTAL HEALTH INJURIES
Rating:
4

Roger Boisjoly
The following is a letter from Roger Boisjoly to a friend, in which he reminisces about his life since blowing the whistle on the Challenger Shuttle disaster, and his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Boisjoly was one of three engineers who, the day before the il-fated January 1986 mission, strenuously objected to the launch, predicting correctly that the O-rings in the solid rocket boosters would fail in the very low temperatures forecast for that day. Their subsequent mistreatment by their employer – and public outrage at this – led to demands for whistleblower protection in the USA.

Published with the kind permission of Roger Boisjoly, in the hope that this may help others who suffer from PTSD.

Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Subject: Long Overdue Communication

Dear Joe:

I received the book you sent me titled $WINDLER$ and wish to express my very deep appreciation and thanks. However, at the same time I would like to express my shameful lack of communication with you for quite sometime now. I almost don't know where to begin my explanation to you for my behavior because you have beaten me to do what I was planning to do recently by sending the book.

Several weeks ago, I had planned to write to you but a vacation with my wife put off that communication until now. Even in your latest note to me dated October 22, 2010, you thanked me for being your mentor and I am thrilled to know and to be reminded by you that my actions and lectures explaining my position for doing what I did on the Challenger launch decision has made a positive impact on you.

I tell you this because my only initial purpose in lecturing to students and practitioners was to inform my audiences about the overwhelming lack of Ethics, Integrity and Organizational Behavior that took place during the Challenger launch decision process and also that what I experienced was typical of our Industrial and Government complexes here in the U. S. and my hope was to try and make a difference in how everyone would act in their chosen professions.

After almost 24 years of speaking, I know that I have accomplished my original goal from some of the feedback I have received through the years and sometimes many years after some had heard me speak. I use this as my opening to what I have to say that will follow.

I want you to know that I have agreed and continue to agree with everything that you have tried to accomplish and have accomplished to some extent. You should be very proud of what you have accomplished and continue to accomplish. I admire your ability to stay the course through all the negative backlash that you had to contend with from the Establishment in Canada.

The heart of what I have to confess to you is that outside of being able to communicate my lectures to others, I have been essentially unable to do anything else outside of my lectures, except to help some Whistleblowers (Truthtellers - my term) with advice to help them cope with the circumstances they would find themselves in as the result of their actions concerning proper Ethics and Integrity. I do not know if I have ever informed you that I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from my ordeal with Challenger but I want to tell you now, not by way of excuse but for purposes of explanation.

The heart of what I have to confess to you is that outside of being able to communicate my lectures to others, I have been essentially unable to do anything else outside of my lectures, except to help some Whistleblowers (Truthtellers - my term) with advice to help them cope with the circumstances they would find themselves in as the result of their actions concerning proper Ethics and Integrity. I do not know if I have ever informed you that I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from my ordeal with Challenger but I want to tell you now, not by way of excuse but for purposes of explanation.

The 63 initial free college lectures I gave over three college semesters starting in January 1987 that were fully supported by my psychologist as the best thing I could do for myself to help me heal from PTSD provided me with a relatively quick recovery from PTSD and allowed me to work myself back into the mainstream of life with one very large restriction as told to me by my psychologist at the end of my last visit with him sometime in 1988. He told me that the speaking would help me accelerate my return to society much quicker than if I had just been able to see him over the course of perhaps 5 to 7 years without having the chance to share my story with others.

However, he also told me that PSTD is not fully curable and that I will definitely be subject to many unknown triggers that could affect me in a very negative way once again and that I would need to protect myself against such events to remain viable in general society. My psychologist's parting words of advice were to seriously consider at first to not listen to any nightly news programs, take a subscription to a newspaper or news magazine or listen to any talk radio programs so I would not once again be subjected to negative bombardment of information that could create a serious trigger resulting in a relapse into PTSD. I followed his advice for quite some time and as a result I remained quite upbeat and happy.

I loved my new career as a Professional Engineer in my own home based company with my wife totally free from the corporate structure of organizational misbehavior, etc. and I especially was thrilled to be able to use all my Aerospace Engineering experience in my practice as a Forensic Engineering consultant and Expert Witness primarily in Product Liability, Trade Secrets and Ethics cases. Even so, the arm of blackball retribution followed me into my own business by companies refusing to allow me to be hired on the Defense side of cases and so my business was unfortunately skewed towards working for Plaintiffs.

All this occurred from the erroneous Corporate belief that all Truthtellers should be prevented from having any type of decent recovery from the event in which they participated to correct a wrong. Interestingly, the few Defense cases that I managed to secure were cases that I won big time for my client attorneys but even with that, the invisible Blackball continued against me. After about five years of forensic work coupled with lecturing, I was literally on top of the world with my wildest dreams coming true and my wife and I were thrilled that we had come back so far from from the depths of the hell we were in during the aftermath of Challenger.

Well that feeling of well-being changed rather quickly when the Defense Bar of Attorneys in Nevada decided to try and run me out of the business by trying to find the triggers that would destroy either my business by having me revisit PTSD or by creating such a pressure cooker environment that I would probably have a heart attack. I figured that they were tired of being beaten in court every time by me as they continued to attempt to win their cases with smoke and mirrors instead of the true facts in the cases which is what I always used and was able to put my expert testimony in layperson's terms so that the jury was fully able to understand what I was explaining to them and that made all the Nevada defense attorneys very upset.

They made this attempt to destroy me by brutalizing me during two successive depositions by asking me questions on the two separate cases that had nothing to do with my case work but rather with my medical history with PTSD, Challenger and any other negative things they could bring up during over five hours of pounding questioning. Although I never missed an answer to any of their questions, they were killing me one question at a time and by the time the depositions were over, I was physically ill at home for the better part of the week succeeding each deposition but the attorneys never had a clue that they had been successful at the time.

After this happened in two successive depositions in Nevada, I had a serious discussion with my wife to discuss my health. I told her that we could continue to make a significant amount of badly needed income and have a very short life due to either a recurrence of PTSD or heart attack or we could get out of the forensic business after I completed my active cases in other states and have a chance for a longer life at a very much reduced income because lecturing only comprised about 10 to 15 percent of our income. The decision was easy from a health standpoint but very difficult to make from an income standpoint because I was not 100% confident that I could pull off my second business transition into a new business model by only lecturing full time, especially since I had been receiving invitations to speak up to this point without any promotion effort on my part.

This was a very sad occasion for me personally because I really loved what I was doing and was always able to act with full Integrity and there was no one upstream of me that could direct me to do otherwise. Well. to make a long story short, the second transition worked out okay and we ended up having sufficient funds for our needs plus a bit more and that is where we ended up. I officially retired at the end of 2005 from accepting invitations to speak where I had to fly to a destination because the security people at airports were putting me through hell on just about every flight I took and it did not matter that I had flown over a million miles on Delta alone. I felt at one point that I had the word terrorists carved into my forehead as I continued to be singled out for searches when passengers all around me were getting a pass.

What this is all leading up to is the fact that I still need to be very careful about possible triggers to avoid another bout with PTSD. To that end you have not heard from me for quite some time. I cannot remember the last time I communicated to you about something that you have sent to me and that is because I was starting to feel the negative effects from your struggles and I had to terminate my contact or potentially suffer another round of PTSD and that was and still is something I never want to experience again.

My good friend, I am so sorry that I had not informed you earlier about my problems with reading so much about your struggles and its upsetting effects on me. Please don't take what I am telling you as lack of my support for everything that you have done and are still doing, because I am still near or at your number one fan position but just unable to write and express my support until now.

Also, please know that this is very difficult for me to express to you since you have been so supportive of me. It's simply the PTSD and the fear of sliding back that keeps me focused on what the psychologist told me to do and it has worked for me nearly 25 years. Please accept my deepest apology for not writing to you sooner.

Best Regards,

Roger

P.S. I continue to speak about four times each year at seminars arranged in Southern California by my very good professor friend, Mark Maier, and his wife. The seminars are all about Leadership versus Dictatorship type management and I speak about Challenger as a model for what goes wrong when professionals abdicate their Integrity.

I am currently in the process of giving all my written and recorded work to the Chapman University Library to archive all the material I have on Challenger and all my lectures on various related subjects. My wife and I drive from our home in Nephi, Utah and back to participate and thus avoid airport security. We have a wonderful time as we are treated very well by out hosts and audiences.

Other than getting older (I am now 72) we are as well as can be expected at this point in our lives. I sincerely hope that this note finds everything well at your end.

http://fairwhistleblower.ca/content/cha ... uggle-ptsd
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:15 am

(A voice from the past.......one of the morally courageous truth-tellers who warned of the space shuttle disaster before it occurred)


Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 10.16.10 AM.png

02-03-12 TNYT: Roger Boisjoly, 73, Dies - Warned of Shuttle Danger
========================


----- Original Message -----
From: Roger M. Boisjoly
To: Joseph Killoran
Sent: August 18, 2003 3:27 AM

Subject: Re: IMAGINE: Made-in-Canada "Truthsayer" protection laws that are better

Dear Joe:

I hope the people in Canada grasp the significance of the difference between the terms "Whistleblower" and "Truthsayer/Truthteller." The first being the "Kiss of Death" (concerning career viability) for the person(s) sticking his/her neck out to attempt to correct a wrongdoing or stop a negative event because of all the negative interpretations by the "establishment" associated with the definition of "Whistleblower." However, use of the second term, "Truthsayer/Truthteller," would make it almost impossible for the "establishment" to twist the meaning into a negative interpretation, thus giving the person(s) involved the proper deserved credit and the very real chance to maintain a continuing desirable career.

I send this note because in the United States the public doesn't have a clue about the significant difference between the terms and the "establishment" (industrial complex & government) don't want any changes so they can continue to crush those who speak out. I wish you the best in making the attempt to create what I know to be a necessary change for the good of everyone, not only for those who are on the front line making the attempt to expose the truth.

Best Regards,

Roger

P.S. Feel free to quote my statements in any of your materials, if you desire to do so.

Roger Boisjoly, 73, Dies; Warned of Shuttle Danger
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Published: February 3, 2012

Six months before the space shuttle Challenger exploded over Florida on Jan. 28, 1986, Roger Boisjoly wrote a portentous memo. He warned that if the weather was too cold, seals connecting sections of the shuttle’s huge rocket boosters could fail.


Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
Roger Boisjoly worked for a firm making rocket boosters.

“The result could be a catastrophe of the highest order, loss of human life,” he wrote.

The memo was meant to jolt Morton Thiokol, the company that made the boosters and employed Mr. Boisjoly. In July 1985, a task force had been formed, partly on Mr. Boisjoly’s recommendation, to examine the effect of cold on the boosters. The effort, however, had become mired in paperwork, procurement delays and a rush to launch the shuttle, according to later investigations.

Meanwhile, his apprehensions only grew. The night before the Challenger’s liftoff, the temperature dipped below freezing. Unusual for Florida, the cold was unprecedented for a shuttle launching, and it prompted Mr. Boisjoly and other engineers to plead that the flight be postponed. Their bosses, under pressure from NASA, rejected the advice.

The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after launching, killing its seven crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, N.H.

Mr. Boisjoly’s memo was soon made public. He became widely known as a whistle-blower in a federal investigation of the disaster. And though he was hailed for his action by many, he was also made to suffer for it.

Mr. Boisjoly (pronounced like Beaujolais wine) died in Nephi, Utah, near Provo, on Jan. 6. He was 73. His death was reported only locally at the time. He lived in southwest Utah, in St. George. His wife, Roberta, said he recently learned he had cancer in his colon, kidneys and liver.

Until the Challenger disaster, Mr. Boisjoly was known in his field as a crackerjack troubleshooter who had worked for companies in California on lunar module life-support systems and the moon vehicle. In 1980, he accepted a cut in pay to move with his family to Utah to deepen his involvement in the Mormon religion and to join Morton Thiokol.

After the Challenger explosion, Mr. Boisjoly gave a presidential commission investigating the disaster internal corporate documents. His disclosure of the internal memo he had written six months before the disaster was regarded as a bombshell.

Mr. Boisjoly was awarded the Prize for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and spoke to more than 300 universities and civic groups about corporate ethics. He became sought after as an expert in forensic engineering.

But before then he had paid the stiff price often exacted of whistle-blowers. Thiokol cut him off from space work, and he was shunned by colleagues and managers. A former friend warned him, “If you wreck this company, I’m going to put my kids on your doorstep,” Mr. Boisjoly told The Los Angeles Times in 1987.

He had headaches, double-vision and depression, he said. He yelled at his dog and his daughters and skipped church to avoid people. He filed two suits against Thiokol; both were dismissed.

He later said he was sustained by a single gesture of support. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, hugged him after his appearance before the commission.

“She was the only one,” he said in a whisper to a Newsday reporter in 1988. “The only one.”

Roger Mark Boisjoly was born in Lowell, Mass., on April 25, 1938, and earned a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Besides his wife, the former Roberta Malcolm, he is survived by his daughters Norma Patterson and Darlene Richens; his brothers Ronald, Russell and Richard; and eight grandchildren.

Mr. Boisjoly worked for 27 years in the aerospace industry. But it was one night and one moment that stood out. On the night of Jan. 27, 1986, Mr. Boisjoly and four other Thiokol engineers used a teleconference with NASA to press the case for delaying the next day’s launching because of the cold. At one point, Mr. Boisjoly said, he slapped down photos showing the damage cold temperatures had caused to an earlier shuttle. It had lifted off on a cold day, but not this cold.

“How the hell can you ignore this?” he demanded. At first this seemed persuasive, according to commission testimony. Makers of critical components had the power to postpone flights.

Four Thiokol vice presidents, all engineers themselves, went offline to huddle. They later said that they had worried they lacked conclusive data to stop a launching that had already been postponed twice. They thought the naysayers might be operating on gut reaction, not science.

Jerry Mason, Thiokol’s general manager, told his fellow executives to take off their engineering hats and put on management hats. They told NASA it was a go.

The next morning Mr. Boisjoly watched the launching. If there was going to be a problem, he thought it would come at liftoff. As the shuttle cleared the tower, his prayers seemed answered.

“Thirteen seconds later,” Mr. Boisjoly said, “we saw it blow up.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/us/ro ... t=cse&_r=0
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:12 am

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 10.07.17 AM.png
President Signs Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA)
on November 27, 2012
After 13 Year Campaign, Federal Workers Get Long-Overdue Upgrades

(Washington, DC) – The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is praising President Obama's signing of S. 743, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), into law earlier today. The legislation provides millions of federal workers with the rights they need to report government corruption and wrongdoing safely. The bill reflects an unequivocal bipartisan consensus, having received the vote of every member in the 112th Congress, passing both the Senate and House of Representatives by unanimous consent over the past couple of months. The text of the bill can be read here.

GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented:

"This reform took 13 years to pass because it can make so much difference against fraud, waste and abuse. Government managers at all levels made pleas and repeatedly blocked the bill through procedural sabotage. But once there were no more secret 'holds,' the WPEA passed unanimously, because no politician in a free society can openly oppose freedom of speech. Over the years, earlier versions of this law had been called the Taxpayer Protection Act. Nothing could set a better context for fiscal cliff negotiations than a unanimous, bipartisan consensus to protect those who risk their careers to protect the taxpayers. This victory reflects a consensus ranging from President Obama to Representative Darrell Issa. The mandate for this law is that the truth is the public's business."

Among other key reforms, federal employees now are protected (in addition to already-existing scenarios) from reprisal if they: are not the first person to disclose misconduct; disclose misconduct to coworkers or supervisors; disclose the consequences of a policy decision; or blow the whistle while carrying out their job duties.

Over the past 13 years, GAP has led efforts to pass the WPEA, heading a coalition of hundreds of groups demanding these protections. Intensive dialogue between the Make It Safe Coalition (MISC), which GAP coordinates, the Obama administration, and both chambers of Congress has paved the way for this development.

The WPEA nearly passed at the end of the last four Congressional sessions, only to be killed by backroom deals during the final hours of negotiation. In one startling example, during the waning days of the last Congress (December 2010), the WPEA – after passing both the Senate and House by unanimous consent in some form – was killed by an anonymous Senator's "secret hold" in the last hours of the session.

Devine noted that there is still key work to be done for federal employees. The WPEA does not include jury trials to enforce newly-enacted protections, or the extension of free speech rights to national security workers making disclosures within agency channels. While the House removed the national security whistleblower provision from the bill, last month the Obama administration made good on its promise to take executive action on those rights, signing a Presidential Policy Directive to restore the lion's share of national security rights that the House removed.

Devine continued, stating

"The victory reflects strong bipartisan teamwork, as well as advocacy within the party, as Republicans often had to work harder at convincing wary colleagues. And it reflects relentless pressure from conservative stakeholders – like the National Taxpayers Union – throughout the last 13 years. Crucial support came from President Obama, who was committed from day one of his term to signing this bill into law. Most Presidents have offered lip service for whistleblower rights, but President Obama fought to give them more teeth."

In Thanks: Whistleblower Champions

Devine singled out retiring Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) as the pioneer in the thirteen-year legislative campaign to pass the WPEA.

Other pioneer and current champions include Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joseph Lieberman (I-Ct.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Carl Levin (D-Mi.). A full list of Senate sponsors can be viewed here. House passage was led by Republicans Darrell Issa (Ca.) and retiring member Todd Platts (Pa.) – who has sponsored the House bill for over a decade – as well as House Democrats Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Elijah Cummings (Md.).

What the Bill Does: Details

The most significant benefits in the WPEA are listed below:

1.) Expanded Protection for Disclosures of Government Wrongdoing

Closes judicially-created loopholes that had removed protection for the most common whistleblowing scenarios and left only token rights (e.g. only providing rights when whistleblowers are the first to report misconduct, and only if it is unconnected to their job duties). (Sec. 101, 102)
Clarifies that whistleblowers are protected for challenging the consequences of government policy decisions. (Sec. 101, 102)
Cancels the 1999 precedent that translates "reasonable belief" to require irrefragable proof ("undeniable, uncontestable, or incontrovertible proof") before they are eligible for protection. (Sec. 103)
Protects government scientists who challenge censorship. (Sec. 110)
Codifies and provides a remedy for the "Anti-Gag" Statute – a rider in the Appropriations bill for the past 24 years – that requires a statement notifying employees that agency restrictions on disclosures are superseded by statutory rights to communicate with Congress, whistleblower rights, and other statutory rights and obligations. (Sec. 104(a), (b) and 115)
Clarifies that protection of critical infrastructure information does not override WPA protection. (Sec. 111)
2.) Expanded Coverage and Fair Processes

Suspends the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals' sole jurisdiction on appellate review of the WPA in light of its consistent track record of narrowing the law's protections. (The Court has a 3-226 record from October 1994 – May 2012 against whistleblowers for decisions on the merits), restoring all-Circuit review for a two-year experiment as mandated in the original 1978 Civil Service Reform Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. (Sec. 108)
Establishes explicit whistleblower protections for Transportation Security Administration employees. (Sec. 109)
Overturns an unusual Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) practice that allows agencies in some cases to present their defense first and allows the MSPB to rule on the case prior to the whistleblowers' presenting their evidence of retaliation. (Sec. 114)
Requires that the President's exercise of his discretionary power to impose national security exemptions that deprive employees of Title 5 whistleblower rights must be done prior to the challenged personnel action. (Sec. 105)
Provides compensatory damages for prevailing whistleblowers under WPA cases that prevail after an administrative hearing, (Sec. 107(b)), including retaliatory investigations (Sec. 104(c)).
3.) Administrative Authorities

Provides the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) with authority to file friend-of-the-court briefs to support employees appealing MSPB rulings. (Sec. 113)
Makes it easier for OSC to discipline those responsible for illegal retaliation by modifying the burdens of proof (Sec. 106(b)), and by ending OSC liability for attorney fees of government managers, if the OSC does not prevail in a disciplinary action (Sec. 107(a)).
Requires the designation of Whistleblower Protection Ombudsmen in Inspectors General Offices to educate agency personnel about whistleblower rights. (Sec. 117)
Requires the MSPB to report on the outcomes of whistleblower cases, from the administrative judge through the Board appeal, in its annual reports. (Sec. 116(b))
Requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the impact and feasibility of changes in the number and outcome of cases before the MSPB, the Federal Circuit, or any other court; and to provide recommendations to Congress regarding whether the MSPB should be granted summary judgment authority and whether district courts should have jurisdiction over some WPA cases. (Sec. 116)

Contact: Tom Devine, Legal Director
Phone: 202.457.0034 ext. 124, 240.888.4080 (cell)
Email: tomd@whistleblower.org

Contact: Shanna Devine, Legislative Campaign Coordinator
Phone: 202.457.0034 ext. 132
Email: shannad@whistleblower.org

Contact: Dylan Blaylock, Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137, 202.236.3733 (cell)
Email: dylanb@whistleblower.org


Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

####




http://www.whistleblower.org/press/pres ... -act-wpea-
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:07 pm

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The Whistle Blower’s Dilemma
In August of this year, the following piece appeared in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. It calls for new whistleblower protections in that country, and quotes our President, Allan Cutler, extensively. It also draws on the knowledge of Transparency International and the experiences of the U.S. whistleblowing regimes. It is followed by an op-ed by Allan.

=======================================

ONE of the most direct methods of exposing corruption is whistleblowing. Unfortunately, whistle-blowers commonly face retaliation in the form of harassment, firing, blacklisting, threats and even physical violence, and their disclosures are routinely ignored.

Transparency International (TI) believes that the individual right to freedom of expression includes the right to identify acts of wrongdoing – both in government and in private companies. In addition to this basic right the simple fact is that people who step forward to disclose wrongdoing – particularly when public safety, health or resources are at stake – should be acknowledged and protected, not punished and ostracised.

Transparency International defines whistleblowing as the disclosure of information about a perceived wrongdoing in an organisation, or the risk thereof, to individuals or entities believed to be able to effect action. In some countries, blowing the whistle can carry high personal risk – particularly when there is little legal protection. Through Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALAC), located in nearly 50 countries, TI advises whistle-blowers in making their disclosures and works to ensure that their disclosures are duly addressed by appropriate authorities. To promote responsible whistleblowing and adequate protection of whistle-blowers, TI developed international principles for whistle-blower legislation, which many countries and international organisations have used to develop their own legislation and standards: http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/activity/our_work_on_whistleblowing

Jamaica adapted 22 of TI’s 27 best practices recommended in this legislation. In December 2010, the Protected Disclosures Legislation (Whistle-blower Act) received the full backing of Jamaica’s Upper House.

At Trinidad and Tobago’s annual Anti-Corruption Conference in 2011, Canadian whistle-blower Allan Cutler shared some interesting insights into the reality of a whistle-blower’s experience in today’s society and acknowledged that, oftentimes, “the whistle-blower gets side-lined; the wrongdoer gets promoted.” But does this mean that one should not blow the whistle? Does this reality justify silence? Absolutely not. Trinidad and Tobago may do well to follow in Jamaica’s footsteps and adopt Whistle-blower legislation.

There are many ways to “blow the whistle.” Cutler noted the impact of modern communication devices such as the phone camera, YouTube and social media which have all made privacy a thing of the past. He also asserted that there is an imperative need for cultural change as laws cannot be effective unless people value the law. At the same time, positive cultural change must be complemented by laws that reflect a national commitment to such change. Ultimately, cultural change emerges from beliefs established at home that are often translated into a particular disposition towards ethical behaviour.

Whistleblowing is about solving a problem. It is not about getting people in trouble or being a tattle tale. It is about improving the community. A whistle-blower must have moral courage which, according to Cutler, comprises:

Principles
A situation of danger
A willingness to endure hardship

Corruption is not the product of a solitary participant. Actors that enable corruption to persist include the perpetrator, active participants, reluctant participants and passive participants. However, you, our avid reader, can be the actor that makes a change. This requires a willingness to take the ultimate risk and be the whistle-blower. This decision is not without personal and professional risks such as intimidation, demotion, firing, forced transfer, isolation or sham investigations. In the end, it is a matter of personal integrity and a deep rooted belief in fairness. The fight against corruption is one that requires relentless action. It is the journey that matters. If we don’t strive to improve, we never improve.

Anti-corruption is in the best interest of everybody and adequate disclosure mechanisms can and will benefit government. If whistle-blowers trust that something will be done they will report it. In this regard, legislation is imperative – you must first have a law to improve. Cutler noted that in drafting whistle-blower legislation there is the need to include a “reverse onus of proof” provision. It should be the job of retaliators to prove that they are not retaliating against the whistle-blower. They should be able to prove that everything is above board and things are going right. Given the risks, whistle-blowers place paramount importance on confidentiality. Legal provisions must include making it an offence to reveal the existence of the investigation or details of the investigation as well as making it an offence to give information knowing that it is false.

Under US Law, a whistle blower is an employee who “tells” on an employer because he or she reasonably believed that the employer committed an illegal act. American intelligence whistle-blowers such as Sibel Edmonds, Russell Tice and Ishmael Jones were fired for exposing abuses of and injustices in the system. Like their UK counterparts – David Shayler, Katharine Gun and Richard Tomlinson – they all experienced tremendous persecution, and were generally inconvenienced, blocked or stalled from testifying before a committee and the courts. However, Edmonds, Tice and Jones eventually did find recourse through the US Congress and the various House and Senate Committees. Trinidad and Tobago may consider adopting similar Committees to protect our democracy. Maybe we as a nation need to place emphasis on enacting Whistle-blower legislation and encouraging a culture of moral courage and ethical living.

=======================================

The following op-ed was published in T&T Newsday following the above piece. The author is Allan Cutler.

Last year I had the pleasure of travelling to Trinidad and Tobago as a speaker at the TTTI Anti-Corruption Conference on Whistleblowing. As it happens, as well as being a whistleblower, I am President of Canadians for Accountability (C4A), the only national organization devoted to assisting whistleblowers in Canada. I had the good fortune of meeting Deryck Murray, the present Chair of Transparency International.

I read with interest Deryck’s interview. He and I both share a desire for a corruption free world. Being realists, we both realize this will never happen. However, there is a saying that summarizes our belief. “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end”. (Ursula K. LeGuin) Nothing remains static. If we don’t try and improve, we will backslide. The greatest danger that all societies face is complacency.

As for the level of corruption in T&T, it can be reduced if people are willing to stand up for their rights. The government must also demonstrate that integrity and accountability are critical values in the society through programs and effective laws. The youth of a country learn their values through the values demonstrated by the leaders of a country. The lessons being taught to the youth will set the tone for tomorrow.

With modern communication, whistleblowing has become international. Originally whistleblowing was limited to a small area. With radio, the ability to get the message out grew. TV allowed the scope to expand to a complete country. The internet has allowed whistleblowing to expose corruption to the world. Governments need to realize that their corruption is no longer private or localized. The world is quickly informed whether through Wikileaks, other electronic media or blogs. This applies equally to Canada and T&T.

We live in a globally integrated world. Whistleblowing is here to stay. All societies continue to have great individuals with strong moral courage and a belief in the stated values of society. Whistleblowers have proven time and time again that they have perseverance. People are fascinated and support their struggles and triumphs. While the society values collective responsibility, it also respects individual heroism. The C4A motto expresses our reality: “Individuals standing for the good of the community against the misdeeds of the few.” The struggle to improve the world is becoming global. Governments and leaders will soon realize that they are better off supporting anti-corruption methods so that their historic legacy will be untarnished.

http://canadians4accountability.org/201 ... s-dilemma/
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:05 am

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By LAURA SAUNDERS
The Internal Revenue Service has awarded an anonymous whistleblower $38 million for information leading to the recovery of between $127 million and $254 million in corporate taxes, according to the whistleblower's attorney.
The payment is believed to be the second-largest whistleblower award under a program created by Congress that took effect in 2007. The program awards between 15% and 30% of the taxes recovered by the IRS. In August, whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld received an award of $104 million in connection with information he provided the IRS concerning offshore tax evasion promoted by Swiss banking giant UBS UBSN.VX -0.97%AG.
The whistleblower's attorney, Scott Knott of Ferraro Law Firm in Washington, declined to name the whistleblower or the firm involved, although he said the corporation is among the top 500 public firms in the country. He released a redacted copy of the IRS's award notice verifying that the whistleblower received $38,037,899.
An IRS spokesman refused to confirm or comment on the new award, citing a federal law barring the agency from doing so. In July, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said publicly that the IRS was trying to determine claims in 10 whistleblower cases that were nearly complete.
Mr. Knott praised the IRS for its handling of the claim. "Both the existence and the name of the whistleblower remained completely confidential throughout this process, proving the IRS can reward corporate whistleblowers" without revealing their identity, he said.
Experts say this means the whistleblower likely was employed through much or all of the four years it took the IRS to process the claim. Bryan Skarlatos, an attorney at Kostelanetz & Fink in New York who has several large whistleblower cases outstanding, said that some of his clients have remain employed by the firms they have turned in.
Mr. Knott declined to discuss the issue involved in the claim, but did say it was more akin to aggressive corporate tax planning than outright fraud. He added that the claim was originally filed in early 2008, which means it was more quickly resolved than many cases.
Most tax-whistleblower cases take between five and seven years to be resolved, experts say, in part because whistleblowers aren't paid until after the IRS is paid and the taxpayer's time to appeal has expired.
Mr. Skarlatos added, "This case sounds exactly like what the IRS is looking for—information from well-placed corporate insiders who can provide specifics about tax noncompliance."
Whistleblower awards are taxable as ordinary income. Lawyers charge up to a 40% contingency fee to handle such cases, experts say.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... _whatsNews
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:41 am

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The courageous lives of whistleblowers
They have the courage to stand up and speak out when no one else dares, yet the popular perception of whistleblowers is they are doomed to be victims of reprisals. But when the fifth estate caught up with some of its more memorable whistleblowers, we found out their lives can take twists and turns no one ever expected.

These cases offer an ironic insight into what was supposed to be a new era of transparency and integrity in Canada. To date, not a single case has been prosecuted under Canada's Public Servant Disclosure Protection Act, and the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner was dismissed in disgrace.

It was the late '90s when the fifth estate first caught up with Drs. Shiv Chopra and Margaret Haydon. The two Health Canada scientists had serious concerns about a new synthetic drug that promised to transform dairy farming by increasing milk production in cows. Chopra and Haydon went public with their concerns and allegations that the manufacturer had offered regulators a bribe, and used questionable tactics as part of a campaign to get the drug approved in Canada. They would eventually both be both fired by Health Canada for insubordination and have spent years trying to get their jobs back. Bovine Growth Hormone was never approved in Canada.

"To serve and protect." It's the motto of numerous police forces, and the declaration of duty which underpins the decision made by so many Canadians to take on a career in law enforcement. For as long as Victoria Cliffe can remember, she's known she wanted to be a police officer. But when she came forward to allege she'd been sexually harassed and assaulted by a superior officer, she became the target of a smear campaign. She's paid a high personal price for speaking out, but today she says she's still just as proud to wear the RCMP uniform.

And a decade ago, Holly Brewer told the fifth estate an incredible story of a young girl pitted against her religion. Growing up as a Jehovah Witness in New Hampshire, Brewer learned two things: the Bible and how to keep quiet. Her silence resulted in years of sexual abuse by her stepfather, a respected member of their church. When her mother asked church elders for help, they did nothing to stop the abuse. And when Holly finally went to the police she and her family became pariahs in their own community. Holly eventually turned her pain into music, today she writes and sings about injustice, though now less about her own and more how it can be overcome.

http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2012-2013/2012/ ... truth.html
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:50 pm

Brad Birkenfeld, the man who blew the whistle on a massive tax evasion scam that cost the U.S. government billions in lost revenue, has been awarded US$104-million by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

The massive payout is understood to be the largest such reward to an individual ever made. It highlights the stark difference between the United States, where even criminal whistleblowers can become fantastically wealthy for selling out their company’s shady tax practices, and Canada, where critics complain there is no incentive to point out wrongdoing.

As an executive at Swiss banking giant UBS AG in Zurich in 2007, Birkenfeld approached the IRS and the information he provided served as the basis for a landmark court case that saw UBS pay a US$780-million settlement and turn over details on thousands of U.S. holders of offshore accounts.

http://business.financialpost.com/2012/ ... irs-award/
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Birkenfeld, now 47, also revealed details of the bank’s operations in Canada.

Evidence presented before a U.S. Senate subcommittee that was looking into the matter included information about a major offshore business in this country run out of UBS’s offices in Switzerland, managing more than $5-billion of Canadian assets at one point.

Related
Tax haven crackdown reaps big rewards
Foreign banks shun U.S. millionaires thanks to tough tax evasion rule
Officials in Ottawa vowed to crack down when the information was reported but so far no Canadian holders of UBS offshore accounts have been successfully prosecuted.

“People realized that it’s a question of time before we get them,” Jean-Pierre Blackburn, then the minister of revenue, told the Financial Post in 2009. “I tell them, we’ll get you, we’ll find you.”

Despite his efforts to secure immunity in the U.S, Birkenfeld was himself caught up in the legal wrangling around UBS and was sentenced to 40 months in prison for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. (He was released on Aug 1.)

According to court documents, UBS bankers in the U.S. trolled art shows, yacht races and other high-end events in search of potential clients looking for ways to avoid paying income tax. As a senior member of the bank’s wealth management team, Birkenfeld had a ring-side seat and also took part, at one point helping a client to stuff diamonds into a toothpaste tube to avoid airport security.

Under U.S. law, such practices are illegal and Birkenfeld reportedly became uncomfortable with what UBS was doing and complained to senior officials at the bank. Birkenfeld claims that it was only when his concerns were ignored that he went to the IRS.

In a statement on Tuesday the U.S. tax authority praised Birkenfeld’s evidence, calling it “comprehensive” and “exceptional in both its breadth and depth. While the IRS was aware of tax compliance issues related to secret bank accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere, the information provided by the whistleblower formed the basis for unprecedented actions against UBS.”

Offshore banks in Switzerland and other tax haven jurisdictions had largely avoided the gaze of tax authorities in countries such as the U.S. and Canada, but that changed in the wake of a series of scandals involving former employees going public with incriminating information and computerized client files.

One of the first tipsters was Heinrich Kieber, a former computer technician at LGT Bank in Liechtenstein, who sold details about account holders to Britain, France and Germany among others. Thanks to Mr. Kieber, the CRA came into possession of details of more than 100 Canadian clients of LGT bank.

The CRA subsequently obtained similar lists of offshore account holders UBS and HSBC.

Because of its efforts to chase after Canadian tax evaders and the publicity around the matter, the CRA says it has collected tens of millions of income tax that it would otherwise not have received.

But critics say it would collect a lot more if took a more aggressive approach, perhaps prosecuting tax evaders in court.

Another strategy employed in the U.S. but not in this country is encouraging whistleblowers to come forward by offering financial rewards— as much as 30% of the tax collected as a result of the information provided.

Indeed, critics frequently complain that far from being rewarded, whistleblowers are more likely to be punished in Canada.

Howard Wetston, chair of the Ontario Securities Commission, raised the possibility of creating a whistleblower program in the securities industry shortly after taking top job at Canada’s largest capital markets regulator in November of 2010. But nearly two years later no such program exists.

Al Rosen, founder of forensic accounting firm Al Rosen & Associates, said the failure of the CRA to aggressively pursue tax dodgers is part of a much larger problem.

“There is no investigation, no prosecution to speak of in Canada,” he said.

Whether it’s the tax authority, financial or securities regulators, there is no will to ensure that players follow the rules.

Mr. Rosen said he recently reported a case of tax fraud to the CRA “but quite likely they won’t even pursue it… [far from giving out rewards for information] they don’t even follow up when you give it to them for free.”

With files from Barbara Shecter
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:48 pm

SEC Pays $50,000 in First Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Reward
By Joshua Gallu - Aug 21, 2012 3:53 PM MT
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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission awarded $50,000 to a whistleblower in its first payout from a program started last year to reward people who provide regulators with evidence of securities fraud.
The whistleblower helped the SEC bring an enforcement action that resulted in more than $1 million in sanctions, the agency said today in a statement. The award represents 30 percent -- the maximum allowed under the Dodd-Frank Act -- of the approximately $150,000 collected so far.

The agency set up a whistleblower program in August 2011 to reward individuals who provide evidence of securities law violations which results in sanctions of more than $1 million. The program was authorized in the 2010 financial-regulation overhaul, which said awards could range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected.
“Had this whistleblower not helped to uncover the full dimensions of the scheme, it is very likely that many more investors would have been victimized,” SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami said in a statement.
The SEC, which didn’t name the whistleblower or identify the related enforcement action, said it rejected a claim from a second person in the same matter because the information the person provided didn’t lead to or significantly contribute to the enforcement action.
Bradley Bondi, a former SEC attorney who is now a partner at law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in Washington, said in an interview that even though the award is “relatively small” in this case, it’s notable that the SEC awarded the maximum amount it could under the whistleblower rules.
“The question is whether the SEC will continue to award bounties at the upper end of the range when the SEC has whistleblowers in bigger cases,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Joshua Gallu in Washington at jgallu@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gregory Mott at gmott1@bloomberg.net

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-2 ... eward.html
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Re: whistleblowers

Postby admin » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:19 pm

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Try to Contain Your Laughter: The SEC Has Opened a Whistleblower Office
By Pam Martens: August 25, 2012

If you want a hearty laugh, check out the web page for the SEC’s official whistleblower office. They’d like us all to know that “Assistance and information from a whistleblower who knows of possible securities law violations can be among the most powerful weapons in the law enforcement arsenal of the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Really? Let’s take a walk down memory lane at what happened to past whistleblowers attempting to promote justice at the SEC.

First up is Gary Aguirre, a lawyer and investigator at the SEC who thought the powerful former Morgan Stanley honcho John Mack should receive a subpoena to give testimony about his potential involvement in insider trading. Mack was protected; Aguirre was fired via a phone call while on vacation — just three days after contacting the Office of Special Counsel to discuss the filing of a complaint about the SEC’s protection of Mack.

This is how Aguirre, who was eventually vindicated by Congress, explained it to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary on December 5, 2006:

“My testimony today will focus on a favor. Senior SEC officials gave it. Morgan Stanley and its CEO, John Mack (Mack), accepted it.

“The favor was an invisible shield. It was put in place by senior officials within the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. It shielded Mack from an SEC subpoena seeking his testimony and records in the PCM insider trading investigation. That evidence was a critical step in proving whether Mack had tipped PCM’s CEO, Arthur Samberg (Samberg), of General Electric’s (GE) pending acquisition of Heller Financial (Heller). Mack was the only suspect. Blocking the investigation of the only suspect blocked the SEC’s investigation of PCM’s trading in GE-Heller. Without that investigation, the SEC would never be able to even consider the filing of insider trading charges arising out of PCM’s trading in GE and Heller against Mack, Samberg, PCM or anyone else.

“The favor had positive effects for some. It cleared the way for Mack’s return on June 30, 2005, as Morgan Stanley’s CEO. Without the favor, Mack would have faced the risk of an SEC lawsuit for insider trading over the next year. Without the favor, Morgan Stanley had two options: (1) it could pass on Mack as its new CEO and look for other candidates or (2) it could hire Mack and take the risk of an SEC insider trading case against him. According to Morgan Stanley’s head of compliance, the risk of an insider trading case against Mack was one Morgan Stanley did not want to accept. The favor made that risk go away.

“The timing of the favor was perfect. The search for the source of the GE-Heller tip began in May and began to point to Mack by mid-June. My supervisors authorized me to seek a criminal investigation of Mack and Samberg on June 14. An SEC subpoena for Mack’s testimony and records was the next logical step in the investigation. That should have occurred during the week of June 20. But just then the shield appeared out of nowhere: one of my supervisors blocked the subpoena…

“So, why would senior SEC officials give such a favor? My immediate supervisor, Branch Chief Robert Hanson, gave me the answer when he first blocked the Mack subpoena: Mack had powerful political connections. He made similar statements on other occasions. I questioned this decision up the chain of command, but only got back silence at first. Mack’s political influence is of course indisputable fact.

“If Justice at the SEC has lost her blindfold, the capital markets are in trouble. The SEC regulates the securities markets. Its success ‘is a bulwark against possible abuses and injustice which, if left unchecked, might jeopardize the strength of our economic institutions.’ Few principles are more deeply engrained in Title 17 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which regulates the SEC’s operation, than the mandates obligating the SEC to handle all of its affairs, including the enforcement of the securities laws, with impartiality. No conduct would stray farther from those mandates than a double set of laws: one for the politically well connected and another for everyone else.

“After my September 2, 2005 letter informed Chairman Cox of the favor, he directed his Inspector General (IG) to conduct an ‘investigation’ of my allegations. The IG employed a unique investigatory method; his staff interviewed and took evidence from only those senior SEC officials who were the subject of my charges. The IG staff never contacted me. Not surprisingly, those charged with misconduct offered little evidence against themselves. The IG was therefore duty bound to find them blameless. This kind of an investigation has a name; it is called a ‘whitewash.’”

Read Aguirre’s full testimony here.

Then there was Darcy Flynn, also an attorney for the SEC. Flynn made the stunning discovery that the SEC had been shredding evidence it had obtained during investigations that did not turn into enforcement actions, rather than preserving the documents as it was required to do under law. As Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone explains in-depth, Flynn appealed to SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, promising not to go outside the agency for review of the matter if she would grant Flynn protection against reprisal. No such offer was forthcoming. Flynn was forced to go to the SEC Inspector General and three Congressional committees as the SEC engaged in some very fancy footwork attempting to downplay the violations.

And, of course, there was whistleblower Harry Markopolos from outside the SEC who pounded on the SEC’s door for years, providing lengthy dossiers explaining in detail why Bernie Madoff was running a ponzi scheme, all to no avail. Madoff’s earlier investigatory files had also been shredded at the SEC.

More recently, on September 27, 2011, the SEC Inspector General released a heavily redacted report suggesting that SEC attorneys now understand that whistleblowing is the fast track to the unemployment line or a demotion, so they now operate incognito. The case involved an employee at the SEC who had sent an anonymous letter to the Inspector General, blowing the whistle on the SEC Director of Enforcement, Robert Khuzami, over his handling of charges that Citigroup executives had intentionally misled public investors about its exposure to subprime mortgages, understating the amount by $37 billion in the Fall of 2007. The report explains:

“…just before the staff’s recommendation was presented to the Commission, Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami had a ‘secret conversation’ with his ‘good friend’ and former colleague, a prominent defense counsel representing Citigroup, during which Khuzami agreed to drop the contested fraud charges against the second individual. The complaint further alleged that the Enforcement staff were ‘forced to drop the fraud charges that were part of the settlement with the other individual,’ and that both individuals were also represented by Khuzami’s friends and former colleagues, creating the appearance that Khuzami’s decision was ‘made as a special favor to them and perhaps to protect a Wall Street firm for political reasons.’ The complaint also alleged that Khuzami’s decision had the effect of protecting Citigroup from private litigation, and that by not telling the staff about his secret conversation, Khuzami ‘directly violated recommendations by Inspector General Kotz in previous reports about how such special access and preferential treatment can cause serious appearance problems concerning fairness and integrity of decisions that are made by the Enforcement Division.’ ”

The report essentially whitewashed the claims against Khuzami, ensuring that fewer and fewer whistleblowers within the SEC or outside the SEC will take the time or trouble to report wrongdoing. Nothing less than a full scale house cleaning at the SEC will do, together with a three-year ban on going to or coming from a Wall Street company or law firm representing Wall Street.

http://wallstreetonparade.com/2012/08/t ... er-office/
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