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There are more effective ways to protest lax enforcement of financial fraud

Last week, it was widely reported that Eric Ben-Artzi, a Deutsche Bank whistleblower stated he will refuse a portion of his whistleblower award from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program.   Mr. Ben-Artzi had worked at the bank as a vice president and he tells an all too-familiar story of a loyal corporate insider reporting serious fraud internally only to be betrayed by corporate compliance officials and then getting fired by management.

Mr. Ben-Artzi next reported the wrongdoing to the SEC and later formally asked the SEC in 2015 to grant him a monetary award for helping the SEC to fine Deutsche Bank. After being awarded more than $8 million he says he will refuse to accept a portion of that whistleblower award (but allow his ex-wife and attorney to collect a portion of his share) as a form of protest to the SEC’s collusion with Wall Street.

However, refusing the award makes little sense, because there are more effective ways the whistleblower can protest lax enforcement and corporate fraud.
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In response to the Panama Papers — the more than ten million leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, that exposed illicit financial activity and tax evasion through the use of anonymous offshore shell companies — the White House announced on May 6th that it would end the use of anonymous corporations in the United States and require disclosure of beneficial owners when foreigners deposit money or buy assets in the United States.

The White House announced that it plans to:
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On April 19th I visited the Supreme Court to listen to oral arguments in Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar, arising under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act.  However, I was shocked at what I heard.The hospital that was sued in this case actually asked the Justices to believe that: (1) it is not fraud for a hospital to bill Medicaid or other government insurance programs for a doctor’s services when it knows that a doctor did not perform any services; and (2) that companies and hospitals that are government contractors should be permitted “to pick and choose which regulations they comply with.”
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April 18, 2016. Today is “Tax Day,” when millions of Americans honestly pay their fair share of taxes. Today is also a day we all owe thanks to the whistleblowers who forced over 54,000 American tax cheats who held illegal accounts in Switzerland to plead guilty to their crimes and pay their back taxes and penalties.

These prosecutions, both civil and criminal, have also resulted in major Swiss banks going bankrupt, others pleading guilty to crimes and paying billions in penalties. All told, as of today over $13.769 billion has been collected from the Swiss banking cheats, and billions more will be recovered as the prosecutions continue.

Here is the story.
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On August 4, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an interpretive rule to dispel confusion over whether employees who only report violations to their employer are protected by the Dodd-Frank whistleblower protection provision. The SEC will formally publish this interpretative rule in the Federal Register and it will operate as an amendment to the Dodd-Frank whistleblower rules. A copy of the SEC’s interpretative ruling can be found here.
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Today, July 21, 2014, is the fourth anniversary of the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act — the most significant financial reform law enacted since the Great Depression to combat Wall Street and financial fraud.  However, the law is under attack from Wall Street and Corporate America, and its most important provisions are in danger.

Dodd-Frank was passed in 2010 in reaction to the financial crisis and stock market fallout from the Great Recession.  The federal government had to bail out major banks and corporations, and the President and many members of Congress felt obligated to make sure it would never happened again.

Part of those reforms was to include robust protections to encourage corporate whistleblowers to report financial fraud and securities violations.  As the Dodd-Frank Act was being written, attorneys with the National Whistleblower Center worked directly with the Senate Banking Commission to ensure that whistleblowers could maintain anonymity, protect their jobs, and receive monetary rewards as an incentive for providing critical information about financial fraud to the Securities Exchange Commission.  After the Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law, attorneys with the National Whistleblower Center also met directly with every Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission and submitted written comments to the SEC that greatly influenced the shape of the final whistleblower rules for the SEC’s whistleblower program.
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