A whistleblower who helped expose systematic overvaluing of credit derivatives at Deutsche Bank said on Friday he had rejected a multi-million-dollar U.S. award for his actions, lamenting that shareholders and employees were the victims. "I will not join the looting of the very people I was hired to protect," Eric Ben-Artzi wrote in an opinion piece in the Financial Times (FT).
Ben-Artzi, a risk officer, was one of a trio of whistleblowers who went to the U.S. financial regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with evidence of the wrongdoing.
The SEC fined Deutsche, Germany's largest bank, $55 million in May 2015 after finding it had overvalued its holdings of credit derivatives by at least $1.5 billion.
"At the height of the financial crisis, Deutsche Bank's financial statements did not reflect the significant risk in these large, complex, illiquid positions," SEC enforcement chief Andrew Ceresney said at the time. But Ben Artzi charged that the wrong people - Deutsche's employees and shareholders - have been punished for the crime while former executives have walked away with millions in bonuses. Deutsche is going through a tough restructuring under new chief executive John Cryan, who plans to cut 9,000 jobs worldwide by 2020, while the share price has fallen to around 10 percent of its pre-crisis value. The bank is currently mired in around 6,000 legal actions worldwide. It had to pay out a $2.5 billion fine in the US over illegal fixing of the Libor interest rate used by banks to lend money to one another. It also settled with the New York financial regulator DFS and the Federal Reserve, which accused it of violating sanctions against Syria and Iran.