Banker claims wrongful termination for Ponzi revelations

A Miami whistleblower said he was fired from his prestigious banking position after reporting suspicious activity related to a Ponzi scheme. The man has filed a wrongful termination case against the financier in connection with the allegations, which revolve around money scams initiated by now-famous Scott Rothstein.

The employee, a high-level regulations expert, claims that he was fired after reporting the investor’s misdeeds. His employer, Gibraltar Private Bank, reportedly told him that their workers did not have to abide by federal banking regulations because of their high-level clients. He had reported suspicions related to Rothstein’s accounts as early as 2008, according to the suit, but bank leaders told him to relax regulatory requirements for the investor, saying he was one of the business’s best clients.

When the man refused to ignore the problems and insisted that Rothstein’s accounts be closed, bank managers fired him.

Approximately one year after the man lost his job, Rothstein was apprehended after fleeing to Morocco. Authorities said he had masterminded a giant fraud scheme that ultimately fleeced investors of more than $1 billion. He has since been sentenced to 50 years’ time in a federal prison, according to reports.

Not only did the bank leaders fire the man bringing the suit, but he alleged that they also prevented him from getting other work because they defamed his character. The man’s former supervisors claimed that he was physically violent to other employees, saying that other workers refused to stay alone with the man after hours. The bank also falsely alleged that they were required to hire armed guards after the man was fired because they were afraid he would return with a gun.

The man is seeking compensation for a variety of wrongs, including retaliation, defamation, whistleblower violations and breach of employment agreements. It is not clear how much money the man is seeking in connection with the suit. He is not looking to be reinstated to his former position because the bank has since become defunct.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Exec claims bank fired him for reporting Rothstein’s Ponzi scam,” Iulia Filip, Nov. 8, 2012

Miami residents rally for raising minimum wage

In an exemplary display of civic action, hundreds came out to Miami recently to protest the $7.25 federal minimum wage. The rally, organized by a local activist group, 1Miami, was a response to the inequity of a steadily rising cost of living and a minimum wage stuck in the sevens. According to the organization’s data, the minimum wage should be $10.55 an hour in order to be commensurate with inflation.

Participants in the rally included many people directly affected by the minimum wage. One protester, a janitor at a luxury apartment building downtown, expressed his belief that group action is the only way to effect real change. Individual wage and hour claims often go unheard, but when hundreds of voices speak out together, there is the potential for action.

Another man, a former marine and shopping cart collector at Wal-Mart, cited his disappointment that, as a veteran, he is still living in poverty, earning just $7.70 an hour. An increase in the federal minimum wage, he feels, would enable him to better provide for his family.

Also in attendance were several activists, political figures and business leaders who, though not directly affected by the minimum wage, recognized the simple justice of a reasonable wage. One woman, a local CEO and candidate for District Commissioner, explained the absurdity of a system in which cost of living, insurance and housing all go up and wages stay the same. To her and many others, raising the minimum wage is obvious and necessary.

The rally, which took place at a waterfront park, included the symbolic laying down of bread and roses, an homage to the Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912, which helped establish the first minimum wage and promote the need for better working conditions.

Source: Huffington Post, “Miami Minimum Wage Protest: 7 People We Met at the Rally,” Christina Lilly, July 25, 2012