A Whistleblower's Horror Story
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Rolling Stone
Posted: February 23rd, 2015
One man's story in particular highlights just about everything that can go wrong when you give evidence against your bosses in America: former Countrywide/Bank of America whistleblower Michael Winston. Two years ago this month, Winston was being celebrated in the news as a hero. He'd blown the whistle on Countrywide Financial, the bent mortgage lender that ... nearly blew up the global economy. Today, Winston [has] spent over a million dollars fighting Countrywide (and the firm that acquired it, Bank of America) in court. At first, that fight proved a good gamble, as a jury granted him a multi-million-dollar award for retaliation and wrongful termination. But after Winston won that case, an appellate judge not only wiped out that jury verdict, but allowed Bank of America to counterattack him. The bank eventually beat him for nearly $98,000 in court costs. That single transaction means a good guy in the crisis drama, Winston, had by the end of 2014 paid a larger individual penalty than virtually every wrongdoer connected with the financial collapse of 2008. When Winston protested his preposterous punishment on the grounds that a trillion-dollar company recouping legal fees from an unemployed whistleblower was unreasonable and unnecessary, a California Superior Court judge denied his argument get this on the grounds that Winston failed to prove a disparity in resources between himself and Bank of America! Four years later, we're still waiting for the first criminal conviction against any individual for crisis-era corruption. There's been no significant reform. What we've seen instead is a series of cash deals with the most corrupt companies.
Note: Countrywide bought political influence to more effectively defraud institutional investors and taxpayers. Thanks to Winston, they were caught and proven guilty. But Bank of America purchased Countrywide, and has been paying off officials in secret deals to continue skirting the law without admitting wrongdoing. And Michael Winston now has to pay Bank of America for their trouble.