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Lessons from a Wall Street Whistleblower

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 2, 2014 8:51 AM |

Those occupying positions of financial and political leadership typically like to promote themselves as possessing real courage and bold vision. Yet, when it comes to defending people who display those very virtues, our supposed leaders often look very much like cowards.

I am reminded of this very reality in reading of the travails of selected whistleblowers on Wall Street. Let’s navigate to a commentary in this weekend’s Financial Times, highlighting lessons shared by Peter Sivere, a former compliance officer at JP Morgan whose confidence was violated by an SEC attorney named George Demos and subsequently his career derailed while trying to do the right thing.

I hold Sivere in the highest regard for trying to do his job in sharing information of illegal practices at JP Morgan. He deserved to be treated as a true hero. Cowards are unfamiliar with the virtues Sivere displayed.

Sivere shared the following chilling perspectives and lessons on his experience:

Although the events occurred nearly 10 years ago, Sivere still feels their effects. “Immediately after I was let go, you feel the emotions that you would [expect to] feel – let down, rejected,” he says. “You felt like if you did the right thing, the firm would stand up for you. That didn’t happen.”

He has no regrets about becoming a whistleblower. But he still wonders why JPMorgan Chase did not support him. He quotes – with some irony – an expression used by Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chairman and CEO, in a 2009 speech to the Harvard Business School in which he said, “Do the right thing, not the expedient thing.” According to Sivere, “I had no reason to believe what I did was contrary to what senior management would expect from me and any JPMorgan Chase employee. You are taught at a young age right from wrong. Yet as we grow older and have our own self-interests in sight many of us lose that feeling of right and wrong.”

The ordeal taught Sivere much about the way the world works and the powerful forces aligned against whistleblowers. He ticks off a list of what would have been nice to know before he embarked along this path: “I wish I had known about the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington. I wish I had known how ruthless external counsel for a corporation could be. I wish I had known that even if company policy may indicate it does not tolerate retaliation, retaliation may be in the eye of the beholder. I wish I had known how in bed the [Wall Street regulators are] with the firms they regulate. I wish I had known that the compliance department is mostly there for window dressing and is really not supposed to find anything. I wish l had known that at the end of the day compliance will be silenced by other forces. I wish I had known that the house always wins. I wish I was not so naive.”

Peter Sivere? True American hero.

Those working to perpetuate a corruptible status quo? Not so much.

Navigate accordingly.

Larry Doyle

Please order a hard copy or Kindle version of my book, In Bed with Wall Street: The Conspiracy Crippling Our Global Economy.

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