Laws protecting “whistleblowers” have been shot down more frequently than we’re comfortable with of late, so it is important to hear the stories of those who have done the whistleblowing and the neglect they experienced as result.
The Huffington Post recently told the story of Linda Almonte, a former division Vice-President at Chase bank who, after discovering fraud, informed her boss only to be promptly fired. Her family’s fortunes quickly evaporated as she was unable to find employment at any other bank due to her new “whistleblower” moniker:
“We went down fast,” said Almonte, 41, about her family. She had been making $100,000 a year as a division vice president at Chase, enough to support her stay-at-home husband, their four kids, ages 12 to 22, and rent a three-bedroom house in San Antonio, Texas.
Her move at Chase amounted to “essentially suicide,” Almonte told The Huffington Post. No bank in town would hire her after word spread that she had stood up to the banking giant, she said. After more than a year of fruitless job hunting, Almonte and her family left town, landing at a hotel near Disney World, paying $300 a week for a two-bedroom with a kitchenette.
Almonte enrolled her children in a federal program for homeless kids so that they wouldn’t have to switch schools if the family had to leave the hotel. Her father joined them to help out and they survived on her father’s $2,700 monthly combined Social Security and disability payments.
The Dodd-Frank bill was supposed to make life easier for whistleblowers, but has not always been the case:
“Employees get fired all the time for blowing the whistle,” said Dana Gold, a senior fellow at the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit organization that advocates for whistleblowers. “We see it so much,” Gold said. “It’s a predictable phenomenon.”
To help compensate for such risks, 2010′s Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law offers incentives to sweeten the pot for some whistleblowers. While Gold and other employee advocates applaud the new provisions, neither Almonte nor any of the hundreds of other whistleblowers who have filed complaints under the new program have received a payout for their information. Instead these informants, who have risked their careers, wait to learn whether they will receive millions in government awards or nothing.
Of course, this isn’t just a problem in the United States. Big banks tend to all employ the same scare tactics and in other countries the problem can be even worse. Here’s an excerpt from today’s Malaysian Insider:
The National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) is now “hunting down” alleged whistleblowers to “put the lid on” claims the company, owned by Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s family, abused a RM250 million federal loan, says PKR.
The party held a press conference today with a former Public Bank clerk, Johari Mohamad, who said he has been “pressured for months before resigning” on May 2 after a domestic inquiry was held due to a complaint by NFCorp chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail.
The 41-year-old has also been summoned by Bank Negara investigators to provide information at 2pm today under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (BAFIA), under which NFCorp has lodged complaints over bank details exposed by PKR.