Stop Features Key Financial Whistleblowers on Deutsche Bank, Countrywide Financial
(Washington, DC) – On Thursday, Feb. 7, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) returns to Florida International University (FIU) to present its acclaimed program, the American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability. The stop will feature prominent financial whistleblowers Eric Ben-Artzi and Michael Winston.
GAP's Tour is a dynamic campaign aimed at educating the public – particularly university students – about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. This event will feature a moderated discussion and is free to all. A full description of the Tour can be found at www.WhistleblowerTour.org.
This Tour stop is sponsored by GAP along with FIU's School of Accounting/College of Business, the College of Law, the Office of Global Learning Initiatives, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The event will last from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Modesto Maidique Campus, College of Business Administration, Room CBC 155.
• In December 2012, Eric Ben-Artzi chose to publicly come forward with his evidence of multi-billion dollar securities violations at Deutsche Bank, the Germany-based global investment bank. While working there, he discovered and internally reported such violations stemming from the Bank's failure to accurately report the value of its credit derivatives portfolio. When he pressed his concerns further, he was retaliated against in multiple ways, and was eventually fired. Ben-Artzi's story led to a series of front-page investigative pieces by the Financial Times. Reports have shown that the Bank hid up to $12 billion in losses, that German regulators were briefed years ago about the problematic fraudulent activities and did nothing while the SEC investigated, and that independent experts in economics have backed Ben-Artzi's allegations. Ben-Artzi is believed to be one of the first whistleblowers to make his concerns public while engaged in the SEC whistleblower process under the new 'Dodd-Frank' regulations. More on his case is at http://bit.ly/13HP4c4
• Michael Winston was a high-level executive at Countrywide Financial tasked with helping it develop better managers to grow the company. When Moody's Investors Services, a credit rating company, expressed concern about Countrywide's succession planning and other governance issues, Winston was asked to write a report to allay Moody's concerns. However, Winston had seen no succession plan, nor knew if one even existed. He refused to write the report and soon afterward his budget was frozen and his duties severely curtailed. When Bank of America took over Countrywide in 2008, he was fired. His story was detailed in a New York Times story.
Last February, GAP brought prominent journalists and whistleblowers – including Jeffrey Wigand (tobacco), Frank Casey (Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme) and Jon Oberg (Department of Education) – to the FIU campus, to rave reviews. GAP President Louis Clark, who also moderated during that two-day event, returns to moderate this panel.
Stated Clark, "We are pleased to visit FIU once again on the Tour. The overwhelming positivity and support from students at last year's stop made it clear that the FIU community recognizes how important whistleblowers are to society, so much so that there was talk of launching an academic course on whistleblowing."
Fred Blevens, Professor in FIU's School of Journalism and Mass Communication, stated: "Whistleblowers are vital if we want quality investigative journalism to continue, as well as to protect the public interest. It was a pleasure to work with GAP last year to showcase why these truth-tellers are essential to our democracy, and I'm excited to have new and timely speakers at our campus this year."
About the Tour
This stop at Florida International University is the fourth of several to be held this academic year. Other 2012-13 stops have included the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Whitman College, Franklin & Marshall College, and Auburn University (which takes place this Thursday). Future stops will include Indiana University-Purdue, and Indiana University-Bloomington.
During the 2011-12 academic year, the American Whistleblower Tour visited 13 colleges, including FIU, Auburn University, Mount Holyoke College, Rutgers University-Newark, Syracuse University, Tulane University, and the University of Texas at Austin. GAP secures some of the most prominent whistleblowers in American history for its Tour. Last year, whistleblower presenters included Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers), Frank Serpico (NYPD), Sherron Watkins (Enron) and Susan Wood ("Plan B").
Goals of the Tour include raising awareness about the vital role whistleblowing has in our democracy, preparing America's youth for ethical decision-making, countering negative connotations associated with whistleblowing, connecting prospective whistleblowers to available resources, and encouraging academic studies of whistleblowing.
Contact: Dylan Blaylock, GAP Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137
Contact: Sarah Damian, GAP New Media Associate
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 130
Contact: Heather Radi-Bermudez, Florida International University
Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP's mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.