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The SEC punished the bank's shareholders and rank-and-file employees, while letting top executives off the hook, the whistleblower said. (Photo: Alan Levine/flickr/cc)

Whistleblower Rejects Award to Protest SEC and Wall Street's "Looting"

'After suffering at the hands of the Deutsche [Bank] executives I will not join them simply because I cannot beat them'

Nadia Prupis

A Deutsche Bank whistleblower rejected his portion of a $16.5 million award for exposing corporate crime because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) let bank officials off the hook, he said Thursday.

Former risk manager Eric Ben-Artzi, who went to federal authorities in 2010 after he was fired from Deutsche Bank for alerting its officials of improper accounting, said the bank and the SEC were so deeply entwined in a revolving-door culture that commissioners refused to properly investigate the firm's top executives.

"This goes beyond the typical revolving door story. In this case, top SEC lawyers had held senior posts at the bank, moving in and out of top positions at the regulator even as the investigations into malfeasance at Deutsche were ongoing," Ben-Artzi wrote in an op-ed for the Financial Times.

Instead, the punishment fell on the bank's rank-and-file employees, he said, with the SEC imposing a perfunctory $55 million fine on the institution that sent the shareholders and workers out the door and left top executives untouched.

Ben-Artzi wrote:

[T]he bank's shareholders and its rank-and-file employees who are now losing their jobs in droves are the primary victims.

Meanwhile, top executives retired with multimillion-dollar bonuses based on the misrepresentation of the bank's balance sheet. It is therefore especially disappointing that in 2015, after a lengthy investigation helped by multiple whistleblowers, the SEC imposed a fine on Deutsche's shareholders instead of the managers responsible.

[....] Although I need the money now more than ever, I will not join the looting of the very people I was hired to protect. I never intended to turn a job in risk management into a crusade, but after suffering at the hands of the Deutsche executives I will not join them simply because I cannot beat them.

He clarified that he is not at liberty to reject the award because his attorneys and ex-wife have a claim to a portion of it, but that he requests it be handed over to the workers and shareholders who were thrown under the bus on the executives' behalf.

As for his $8.25m award, he wants it "clawed back from the bonuses paid to the Deutsche executives, especially the former top SEC attorneys."


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