As is often the case in a high-profile scandal, corporate parties to the inquiry sought to argue that rogue individuals, rather than their employers, had been negligent. “This was a case that I felt strongly about,” says Carl. “Rightly, there are many people and organisations who must be held to account as the inquiry seeks the uncover truth and overhaul the system that allowed these horrific events to occur. The company involved sought to deflect culpability and without our help, this individual, could have been held wrongly accountable.”
Unfortunately, it can take time for professionals in crisis to realise that their interests have begun to diverge from those of their employer, says Chris LaVigne, a partner in the litigation and white collar defence and investigations teams in New York. “Most people don’t anticipate that a company can turn on them. This is somewhere they have earned money, made friends and built their reputation. For someone who is just doing their job, there is often no sense that something bad could happen.”
And yet bad things do happen, as in the case of a foreign exchange trader who had begun his career at a global bank straight out of high school. “Our client was a trader, doing what he always knew to be the way you traded in the forex world,” recalls Chris. “One day he was invited to a meeting and found himself sitting in front of a bunch of lawyers for the bank, all asking questions about rate rigging, and he didn’t have a lawyer with him.”
The trader lost his job and was unable to find a new one while being investigated by a government regulator. “We got him through that. But it took years and it was a trying experience,” notes Chris. “What kept him going was that his wife and family supported him. He loved being a dad and started coaching soccer, made friends in his community and managed to carve out a life and headspace separate from what was going on.”
UK financial services regulatory partner, Harvey Knight, represented a senior banker over an even longer period. Withers was consulted when a national newspaper reported that the banker had suppressed a report that showed wrongdoing at an overseas subsidiary. The banker’s case was that he had shared the information with his superiors and been exited as a result; his suspicion was that the bank had leaked false information to the newspaper.