When you see something, say something!

Calling all Whistleblowers!

Let’s imagine there is at least one person out there that has information that could lead to the prosecution of a high-level government official (past or present) relating to the mishandling of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.   Let’s further imagine there are likely several people that exist that perhaps have information regarding wrongdoing involving several government or institution officials.

Why wouldn’t they come forward?

Observe what happened on timhoward717’s blog this weekend with a former OFHEO official making harassing statements and threatening legal action based on comments posted on the blog.

Intimidation, retaliation, character assassination, threat of lawsuits, loss of employment… Those are some of the potential consequences for reporting wrongdoing.

However, two other results could occur:

  1. the whistleblower could be successful in uncovering illegal activity and may even receive a financial reward or,
  2. if the potential whistleblower has knowledge of illegal activity and does not come forward, they may be implicated as complicit by another whistleblower or as a result of an investigation.

Let’s face it… blowing the whistle on the likes of a top government official or any of their top lieutenants is really an intimidating proposition.   The names associated with the Fannie/Freddie debacle include Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, Jim Lockhart and Ed DeMarco, to name just a few.

And how about several members of Congress who have rallied to destroy these two private companies? Is there anyone with knowledge that could come forward by exposing a nefarious motive?

The reactions of some of the accused when faced with being exposed with wrongdoing could go to great lengths to divert attention or otherwise cover-up what they have done.

Consider the protective order requested by the US Government in Judge Sweeney’s court. What and who are being protected and why? Has everyone who has knowledge of the events being “protected” come forward or are they being coerced into silence?

What about the initial take-over of Fannie and Freddie orchestrated at the highest level of the US Government? Is there someone who has information exposing illegal or immoral activities that hasn’t come forward, yet?

Or maybe the Third Amendment (Sweep Agreement) – the deal that changed the rules in the middle of the game without public debate. It seems highly implausible that only Mr. DeMarco and Mr. Geithner (the signers on the Agreement) know the details leading up to that secretive arrangement. Surely there are people out there with knowledge. Who initiated the secret deal, what was the motivation, was anyone intimidated or coerced, why is everyone keeping quite, etc.?

Going against the likes of the US Government, the Federal Reserve Bank or a TBTF institution is a serious matter. One should do their research and seek legal advice before embarking on that “journey.” However, many have taken the proper, moral course of action in the past by coming forward and reporting wrongdoing.

This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, though consider whistleblowers in 2002 like Cynthia Cooper (Worldcom) and Sherron Watkins (Enron).

If you see something, say something…they did.

Or more recently with Edward O’Donnell and Michael Winston (Countrywide), Eileen Foster (BoA), Richard Bowen (Citigroup), Linda Almonte (JP Morgan) and Alex Grabcheski (AIG). Each of these individuals had the courage to come forward – against formidable foes – and reported what they knew to be wrong.

Carmen Segarra’s (NY Fed/Goldman Sachs) whistleblowing resulted in a change of behavior at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as reported just yesterday:

Federal Reserve Announces Sweeping Review of Its Big Bank Oversight

By Jake Berstein, November 24, 2014

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/business-economics/federal-reserve-announces-sweeping-review-big-bank-oversight-95142/

All of us just want to know the truth.

Perhaps there are people or groups who could help uncover the truth and provide assistance to potential whistleblowers.

For instance New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman could call for a Special Prosecutor to investigate wrongdoing. New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. could convene a Grand Jury. This process also starts with one person – one individual willing to start the investigative process.

There could be Congressional inquires.

If a whistleblower has information that implicates himself/herself could immunity be offered to help expose the greater truth?

Could the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) help?

On their website (https://osc.gov/) it states OSC…”is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Our basic authorities come from…federal statutes: …the Whistleblower Protection Act… OSC’s primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing.”

Perhaps a whistleblower does not want to come forward to the US Government with an accusation against the US Government. Could a whistleblower go to their state’s attorney general rather than the Federal Government?

National Association for Attorneys General:

http://www.naag.org/current-attorneys-general.php

With the lawsuits filed by shareholders of Fannie and Freddie will come depositions – it will be interesting to see whom those testifying implicate. Will those witnesses point the finger at someone who is now a potential whistleblower? Perhaps you, as a whistleblower, should not wait to become the scapegoat or fall guy.

Equally interesting will be documents presented during discovery. Will all of the documents be presented or will some “be lost?” Could these selective documents that are presented implicate you, a potential whistleblower, as complicit in illegal activity? Perhaps be preemptive and come forward now.

Sound advice for a whistleblower is to seek legal council. Maybe you and your lawyer decide to enlist the help of CBS 60 Minutes to help uncover the truth.

There must come a time in someone’s life when they realize they need to take a stand; to do what’s right and stop the intimidation. If someone is being coerced or bullied into silence, they need our help. We all need to take a stand against what’s wrong and stand for what’s right.  It’s time we learn the whole truth!

Additional Whistleblower references:

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:

http://www.sec.gov/whistleblower

“The Commission is authorized by Congress to provide monetary awards to eligible individuals who come forward with high-quality original information that leads to a Commission enforcement action in which over $1,000,000 in sanctions is ordered. The range for awards is between 10% and 30% of the money collected.”

The National Whistleblowers Center (NWC)

http://www.whistleblowers.org/

“Mission: NWC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting employees’ lawful disclosure of waste, fraud, and abuse.”

FHFA:

http://www.fhfa.gov/AboutUs/Policies/Pages/Whistleblower-Protections.aspx

“The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) prohibits taking or not taking a personnel action (or threatening either) with respect to any employee…which he or she reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule, or regulation or gross mismanagement…an abuse of authority…”

U.S. Department of Treasury:

http://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/ig/Pages/New%20Employee%20Orientation/Whistleblower-Protection.aspx

“As employees of the Federal Government…who are aware of these protections will be more confident in coming forward to report possible violations of law…”

U.S. MERIT SYSTEMS PROTECTION BOARD:

http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=557972&version=559604&

“There are certain personnel practices that are, by statute, forbidden in the Federal Government… One of the most frequently discussed…is the prohibition against retaliating against an employee for the act of disclosing a violation of any law…”

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