Blowing the whistle on financial crime
Blowing the whistle on financial crime
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Latest: Jan. 14, 2023
EAT hearing date & a short(ish) video
Let's start with why I really need you:
- My job was to make society safer by helping to prevent my former employer, the Royal Bank of Canada, from laundering the proceeds of serious crime including drug trafficking, people smuggling, tax evasion and corruption, and from funding terrorism;
- After flagging a large number of customers I believed to be suspicious and raising serious concerns in how the bank was undertaking its legal obligations to identify and prevent money laundering, I lost my job. Despite doing the right thing, my reputation and career have now been destroyed;
- I need your help in my David v. Goliath struggle in order to hold a big bank to account. Royal Bank of Canada have previously been found by the English Courts to discriminate against whistleblowers. What happened to me could happen to anyone trying to do the right thing.
Who am I?
Hi, I'm Andy, and until November 2020 I was a compliance officer responsible for fighting financial crime. My job was to protect the London office of Royal Bank of Canada (the bank I used to work for) against criminals laundering money and terrorists raising financing. Money laundering continues to be a major global problem.
People like me are responsible for identifying those customers who try to conceal their true identity when opening bank accounts and for identifying account activity which is completely out of line with expectations.
FACT - did you know that the United Nations:
"...estimates that 2-5% of global GDP is laundered and given London’s position as one of the world’s largest financial centres, there is a realistic possibility that it remains in the hundreds of billions of pounds annually. It is likely that the majority of this is corrupt money from outside the UK, but it also includes the proceeds of crime generated from within the UK." (Footnote 1)
Financial institutions, including banks, have a responsibility to put processes and controls in place to prevent this from happening. But banks don't always get this right. In Dec 2021, NatWest was fined £284.8m by the UK regulator. Just in December 2022, one of the biggest banks in Denmark, Danske Bank, was fined US$2bn for lax money laundering controls.
Shortly after I started at Royal Bank of Canada, I started raising some serious concerns in how the bank was undertaking its legal obligations to identify and prevent money laundering. I flagged a large number of customers I believed to be suspicious, a worrying trend suggesting that the bank really didn’t know who these customers were.
I quickly became a persona non grata - my escalations and interventions were, to say the least, unwelcomed. I was viewed as a "potential problem child". The strategy adopted, according to internal documentation, was to "load [me] up to the eyeballs haha".
I quickly realised that I was to be 'managed out' - just for 'doing the right thing'.
All matters referenced here were either referred to in my witness statement (see below) or referred to in the Final Hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal in June & July 2022. I am currently appealing to the Employment Appeal Tribunal “EAT” and I need your help.
Overview of my Employment Tribunal Whistleblowing case
I resigned from the bank in November 2020 due to the retaliatory actions that I suffered by my management team as a result of being a whistleblower; continuing in my role was untenable.
My witness statement (redacted) provides a detailed account of the concerns I was raising to my management team, along with a full and accurate timeline of events in 2019 and 2020:
The Employment Tribunal judgment can be found here:
Note: My protected disclosure regarding a significant proportion of UK-managed Wealth Management relationships not being treated as UK customer relationships for AML purposes has been completely misinterpreted and misreported. (Footnote 2) This is arguably the most profoundly serious and systemic of my protected disclosures, for the reasons outlined in my witness statement and as communicated to the Employment Tribunal earlier this year. It is NOT just about having adequate Customer Due Diligence (i.e. KYC) in place to meet UK Customer Due Diligence requirements. This is a point I have stressed to numerous regulatory authorities.
The preceding three years have been a living nightmare which would deter the most tenacious of people from proceeding with any raising of issues.
Whistleblowing should be encouraged to help strengthen financial institutions and the financial system and encourage good behaviours. This case has only demonstrated how lying by individuals can mentally and financially deter anyone from doing so.
The judgment at the Employment Tribunal...
I was confident that justice would be administered by the Employment Tribunal and that I would be vindicated.
Alas, no - for reasons I am simply unable to explain or understand, I feel that the judgment I received at the end of September 2022 omitted most of the strengths and merits of my case, for example (and in my view):
- it ignored much of the contemporaneous evidence supporting my case. This included a vital letter and attachments I sent to my manager on 4 February 2020 that dealt with the alleged 'performance' concerns in detail;
- it failed to properly consider the credibility of key witnesses. One witness produced a second witness statement on the basis that he had "misremembered" events, but this was just the tip of the iceberg;
- it ignored the fact that the bank allegedly 'lost' my work pedestal containing vital evidence - notes and notebooks that would have been incredibly helpful to my case;
- key emails were heavily redacted, which meant the Tribunal were not able to consider key evidence; and
- the Tribunal got the law wrong!
I was left devastated with what was contained in the judgment (or rather what wasn't contained in the judgment); it is simply unfair and unjust and not in line with the overriding objective of the Employment Tribunal.
I was very disturbed to discover that hearings at the Employment Tribunal are not recorded. The official court record is said to be the Employment Judge's notes however these are regarded as private and Claimants are not routinely given a right of access to them. My case is undoubtedly one that is very much in the public interest yet I am left to fight for justice with my hands tied behind my back.
There are recent reports of employment tribunals doing similar things in other whistleblowing cases involving powerful interests - these examples are from the NHS and nuclear industry but there are many more from what I am learning:
- The Employment Tribunal will see you now doctor | LinkedIn
- When Whistleblowing Goes Nuclear (crowdjustice.com)
Royal Bank of Canada has previously been found by the English Courts to discriminate against whistleblowers:
This judgment also refers to another Employment Tribunal case regarding the bank's treatment of its employees:
"Mr Hughes did not trouble to tell Mr Krag that the bank, while he was head of HR, had been castigated by the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal in King v RBC Europe Ltd  IRLR for its wholly unacceptable practice of dismissing employees without going through any reasonable procedure. Its actions had been described as “unfair and brutal”. It does not appear that Mr Hughes had reflected on these criticisms or concluded that it might be a good idea for the bank to change its ways"
What am I trying to achieve?
The energy, time, resources and money I have had to devote to this cause has been, at times, overwhelming. Family and friends have been simply amazing in supporting me financially through the last few years however I need to look at new ways of funding to enable me to pursue justice.
Having already spent a considerable 6-figure sum over the last 3 years on legal fees, I am currently appealing to the Employment Appeal Tribunal “EAT”, a higher court to the Employment Tribunal and I need your help. I need to ensure I have the financial resources to carry on pursuing this David v. Goliath battle and for justice to be administered and hold people to account.
What are the next steps in the case?
- I am currently waiting for an Appeal hearing to be scheduled in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the early part of 2023, where my counsel, Daphne Romney KC from Cloisters Chambers, will be able to make submissions to the EAT as to why the Employment Tribunal 'erred in law' (i.e. got it wrong) in arriving at the conclusions they did. I believe the Employment Tribunal really failed to consider the totality of circumstances in drawing their conclusions.
- I have also recently instructed a leading criminal barrister to advise on certain aspects of the case.
- Royal Bank of Canada's solicitors, Allen & Overy LLP, informed me on 17 January 2022 that my work pedestal, containing vital evidence of the work I was undertaking (to actually protect my former employer), including notes and notebooks was "lost". I will be seeking further answers on how Royal Bank of Canada, one of the world's biggest custodians, manages to lose such evidence.
- A book. Lot's of people familiar with my case have suggested I write a book based upon the events and experience I have had to go through. I think this will be incredibly helpful in a shining a light on the tactics used (i.e. 'DARVO') by banks and their legal representatives in such situations.
How much am I raising and why?
My initial target is for £20,000. This will enable me to progress my case in the EAT and hopefully succeed in having the Appeal allowed and for the claim to be remitted for re-hearing by a new Tribunal.
Additionally, any non-financial advice, support and experience that anyone may be able to offer would also be appreciated. Anybody with knowledge of UK company law and 'de facto' directors would be particularly welcome.
I should be grateful if you would share my story far and wide and consider contributing to this cause. There is simply no place for the kind of corporate behaviour that I have been subjected to. Should anyone have any questions please contact me at email@example.com.
Thank you so much for reading!
1: NRA_2020_v1.2_FOR_PUBLICATION.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)
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Jan. 14, 2023
EAT hearing date & a short(ish) video
Also, my hearing date at the EAT has been scheduled for the 4th of May 2023.
Jan. 5, 2023
"doing the right thing" - 1 week down
Thank you all so much for contributing and sharing my story in the 'soft' new year holiday period. As some of you know, I took a much needed break away from London over this period, to try to rest and recharge.
I now start 2023 emboldened. In recent weeks and months, some amazing people have been in contact with me and are really helping me to 'connect the dots'. Their knowledge and insight, I think, will prove to be invaluable.
I did not mention this in my original post but I genuinely have put everything on the line. I have begged and borrowed extensively over the last couple of years and have sold everything of value I own. It is THAT important. When I started off my career at Merrill Lynch, in the year 2000, the phrase "doing the right thing" was a phrase that was continually used throughout my early years at Merrill. It was a simple phrase but one that really stuck with me and one that has guided me through the last 20 years.
It is simply knowing right from wrong, having a moral and ethical compass and standing up against wrongdoing.
Please continue to share my story and help in anyway you are able to.
Thank you again and keep fighting.
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