As we note on a relevant page of our website at the results-driven national law firm of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP, the seminal Dodd-Frank legislation has placed a strong spotlight on fraud in the securities industry in recent years.
And that is nowhere clearer than in the protections afforded whistleblowers who seek to report corporate wrongdoing and frequently run great personal risks for doing so. That company attempts to suppress whistleblowing activities are flatly unlawful is made "unambiguously clear" in Dodd-Frank provisions, noted ex-SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt in a recent media piece spotlighting whistleblowing activities.
Pitt's comment is specifically in reference to the unquestionably shocking and truly large-scale fraud practiced upon thousands of Wells Fargo bank customers by company employees operating pursuant to an aggressive sales program. About 5,300 bank workers were recently fired for creating -- and charging customers for -- fake accounts. The bank was recently slapped with $185 million in fines.
One sad and ancillary outcome in the scandal concerns a small but potentially growing number of former bank employees who say they were wrongfully terminated for whistleblowing activities that sought to spotlight and curb the widespread fraud that was victimizing many customers.
According to one national report on the matter, one ex-worker contacted the Wells Fargo ethics hotline and additionally emailed the bank's human relations department. Another personally contacted Wells head John Stumpf, who many of our readers might have seen being grilled by U.S. Senators last night in connection with the scandal. Both those employees were fired.
Others, too, suffered the same fate.
Wells Fargo might now pay a heavy price for its retaliatory actions, potentially suffering both civil and criminal liability for its wrongful termination of workers.