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Monday, July 23, 2012

Big Firms Place Employees At Risk

I have written before on the risks that many employees, even at the largest and most established and prestigious companies in the nation or world, assume by working there.

It is natural and not entirely irrational for employees to believe that a firm's prominence equates to credibility and even to fundamental honesty.  However, as these remarks by Manhattan's United States Attorney Preet Bharara suggest, the most egregious frauds have been committed by among the most prominent firms in the world.

In particular, I stress the following:

What might be most astonishing (and disappointing) is that some of the most egregious securities frauds have occurred at institutions with seemingly robust compliance programs — at least on paper. They have occurred not at fly-by-night outfits but at prominent and powerful companies. And they have been enabled and perpetrated by the highest-flying money managers on Wall Street.
We have witnessed the most educated, successful, and monied professionals in the country put their companies — not to mention their own liberty — at risk by engaging in flagrant and foolhardy illegal conduct.
Every employee with supervisory or managerial responsibilities, and every white-collar professional (e.g., attorneys and accountants) with responsibilities or job functions involving strategy, operations or management, should be aware that they may face civil or even criminal liability for their own actions -- or inactions, as negligence is becoming criminalized -- as well as the actions of others.  In addition, there is the ever-present risk that a dishonest co-worker or supervisor will plant evidence, embellish stories or otherwise frame you or other innocents in order to save his skin, either his job or his freedom.

This may make you paranoid, cubicle dwellers.  But this dose of paranoia may save your freedom, too.

Eric Dixon is a New York attorney who does counsel people from management on down on precisely this issue.

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