07 setembro 2016

Delator de fraude contábil recusa prêmio da SEC

Revolving Doors,” the habit of executives and regulators going back and forth between government jobs and regulated industries, has attracted increasing attention since the financial crisis.

The incestuous relationship between regulators and the industry they are tasked with supervising is considered by many as one of the main reasons for “regulatory capture”–the failure of regulation in addressing market failures, and, in many cases, the designing of regulation that benefits incumbents and subverts competition.

Eric Ben-Artzi, a whistleblower who exposed a major case of accounting fraud by one of the biggest financial institutions in the world, chose a very unique way bring attention to the revolving door. Last week he announced, in the pages of the Financial Times, that he is renouncing his share of a $16.5 million SEC whistleblower award because of what he describes as corrupt behavior by the SEC’s senior leadership in deciding not to go after the executives, but rather charge only the bank itself.

In 2011, Ben-Artzi (along with two other former Deutsche Bank employees) revealed that Deutsche Bank had overvalued its derivatives portfolio in order to hide billions in potential trading losses. (In 2012, the Deutsche Bank whistleblowers estimated that the bank hid up to $12 billion in paper losses during the financial crisis, while the SEC estimated the sum at more than $1.5 billion when Deutsche settled the charges in 2015.)

By rejecting what he saw as an unjust penalty for Deutsche Bank’s shareholders, Ben-Artzi made a moral choice. Though his rejection of a multimillion dollar payout is remarkable, he is not the first whistleblower to be motivated by moral concerns. Indeed, as Northwestern University’s Adam Waytz notes in his ProMarket piece, studies consistently show that whistleblowers are more motivated by moral reasons than they are by financial gains. Waytz’s own research into the motivations of whistleblowers shows that whistleblowers are primarily motivated by fairness and justice1), which makes sense considering that they are more often punished for their actions than rewarded for them.

Ben-Artzi estimates his share of the settlement at $3.5 million (after fees and payments to lawyers, experts and his ex-wife). Ben-Artzi has a PhD in mathematics and is not a rich man. He has not amassed a significant fortune in his Wall Street career, and he believes that his odds of getting a job on Wall Street after whistleblowing on his bosses at Deutsche Bank are very low. After his experience on Wall Street and the process of whistleblowing to the SEC, getting to know his motives and perspective on bankers’ behavior, regulators, and finance may offer support to people who view revolving doors as a key culprit in regulatory capture.


Eric Ben-Artzi...Eric Ben-Artzi in the Wall street area of New York City

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