"Blowing the Whistle" On Wall Street:
He Took the Risk, and He Paid the Price
It was a moment that Mark Mohan says he will never forget.
It was also the start of an "endless nightmare" that would leave the 57-year-old Connecticut stockbroker without a paying job, without a spouse, and without a way to defend himself against what he describes as a "series of merciless reprisals" by one of the most powerful stock brokerage firms on Wall Street.
Mohan's brutal moment took place on a summer afternoon in 2016, when he finally decided to heed his conscience and start blowing the whistle on "financial crimes that were being committed daily by ruthless money managers" at the huge, international Wall Street firm known as UBS.
As a licensed Ph.D. social worker and counselor who has specialized in assisting whistleblowers for more than 40 years, I've seen what happens to those brave souls who dare to "speak truth to power." According to a New York Times-published survey of 300 American whistleblowers I conducted a while back, the vast majority of those who take the risky step of blowing the whistle on alleged corporate crime soon wind up jobless and penniless, even while struggling to make their voices heard.
Mark Mohan's story is one of the most troubling I've heard.
After discovering that the immensely powerful UBS financial empire was "failing to provide required data on securities that were being offered for sale on the New York Stock Exchange," Mohan realized that he would have to report the lapses in order to protect his clients . . . many of whom were "ordinary American citizens who stood to lose their retirement savings because of the UBS refusal to obey the law."
Some background: during more than twenty years as a Financial Advisor at UBS and several other Wall Street firms, Mohan "saw firsthand what happened to stockbrokers who rocked the boat" by reporting illegalities to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission,
After daring to blow the whistle on fraudulent practices, he says, many of these courageous truth-tellers soon discovered that the legal strictures designed to protect American whistleblowers would not save them from the reprisals that quickly followed their decisions to expose fraud on Wall Street.
"I wasn't naïve," says Mohan today. "I understood the risks I'd be taking if I went public with information about how the UBS financial empire was unloading some of its own troubled proprietary holdings in stocks on unsuspecting clients and investors while also failing to disclose information to clients and investors on securities offered on the New York and other stock exchanges. These abuses occurred because of the UBS refusal to obey the law."
Mohan immediately filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission after both violations occurred. "Failing to disclose those proprietary 'insider' trades was clearly illegal," he says today, "and it was almost certain to depress the value of the affected stocks".
Adds the disgusted Mohan: "Like most Financial Advisers who trade securities daily on Wall Street, I was familiar with UBS' long history of being investigated for improper practices by the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice. All too often, those investigations ended with formal plea agreements in which the financial giant agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to escape criminal prosecution. Those settlements have been carefully documented by the Wall Street Journal and other news media."
After "agonizing" over his decision to blow the whistle, Mohan realized he didn't have a choice.
"If I'd remained silent, I'd have left my clients in financial jeopardy so I took the leap by alerting the SEC and UBS to the fact that these "insider" violations were occurring almost daily.
The response was immediate, he says. "Soon the decision-makers at UBS were threatening my job security, while insisting that I was simply a disgruntled employee striking back."
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