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Historic Survey of Financial Services Professionals Reveals Widespread Disregard for Ethics

News release: “Labaton Sucharow LLP, which established the nation’s first practice exclusively dedicated to representing SEC whistleblowers, today announced the results of its collaborative survey with the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business: The Street, The Bull and The Crisis. The survey, the most expansive of its kind, polled more than 1,200 U.S. and UK-based financial services professionals to examine views on workplace ethics, the nexus between principles and profits, the state of industry leadership and confidence in financial regulators. With findings pointing to a continued disregard for ethical engagement and alarming new tactics to silence potential whistleblowers, the industry appears to be faltering in its reform efforts. Profits, Not Principles In one of the most concerning findings, 47 percent of total respondents feel it is likely that their competitors have engaged in illegal or unethical behavior to gain an edge. While nearly one in five professionals feels it is at least sometimes necessary for financial services professionals to engage in illegal or unethical activity in order to succeed, a full 32 percent feel compensation structures or bonus plans pressure employees to compromise ethical standards or violate the law. Of those surveyed, 27 percent don’t agree that the industry puts the interests of clients first.  How severe is the ethical breakdown? An astonishing 22 percent of respondents say they have observed or have first-hand knowledge of actual wrongdoing in the workplace. On an individual level, a quarter of those surveyed say they would likely engage in insider trading to make $10 million if there was no chance of being arrested. Employees with less than 10 years of experience are more than two times as likely to use non public information than those with over 20 years of experience, reporting 32 percent and 14 percent respectively. “Most disappointing is the lack of change in many of the results when compared to surveys from previous years. Despite significant energy and efforts, it appears we need to continue to think about how to improve the culture of ethics in the financial services industry and most likely, in other sectors as well,” said co-author Ann Tenbrunsel, Ph.D., David E. Gallo Professor of Business Ethics at the Mendoza College of Business and a co-author of Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It.” Secrecy Agreements Mask a Corrupt Culture – Perhaps the most disturbing findings relate to efforts to stifle reports of misconduct. Despite the unwaivable right to report potential wrongdoing to law enforcement, and the federal government’s public effort to identify and punish organizations that illegally attempt to silence employees, a shocking 16 percent of those polled say their company’s confidentiality policies and procedures prohibit reporting potential illegal or unethical activities directly to law enforcement. One out of every 10 respondents report they have signed or have been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement that specifically prohibits reporting potential illegal or unethical activities directly to law enforcement. For those who make over $500,000 annually, that number rises to 25 percent. Of the total sample, 19 percent feel it is likely that their employer would retaliate against them for reporting wrongdoing.  “When corporate whistleblowers are prohibited, discouraged or retaliated against for reporting crime to cops, we should all be scared—very scared,” said Jordan A. Thomas, Chair of the Whistleblower Representation Practice at Labaton Sucharow and co-author of the report. “The widespread, systematic and previously unknown scope of gag orders in Corporate America is a wake-up call for the SEC and other law enforcement authorities. These tactics are particularly insidious because they keep local, state and federal law enforcement organizations in the dark about all types of wrongdoing—everything from large-scale corporate frauds, environmental accidents and public safety concerns.”

US DOJ IG Report – Review of the FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders

FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders: Assessment of Progress in Implementing Recommendations and Examination of Use in 2007 through 2009, Oversight and Review Division Report 15-05. May 2015. Redacted. “The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced today the release of a public version of its most recent report examining theContinue Reading

The Library of Babel

“The Library of Babel is a place for scholars to do research, for artists and writers to seek inspiration, for anyone with curiosity or a sense of humor to reflect on the weirdness of existence – in short, it’s just like any other library. If completed, it would contain every possible combination of 1,312,000 characters,Continue Reading

Du-Vote: Remote Electronic Voting with Untrusted Computers

Du-Vote: Remote Electronic Voting with Untrusted Computers. Gurchetan S. Grewal, School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK;  Mark D. Ryan, School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK; Liqun Chen, HP Laboratories, Bristol, UK; Michael R. Clarkson, Department of Computer Science, Cornell University, US. [via ReadWrite] “Abstract —Du-Vote is a new remote electronic votingContinue Reading

Women’s Representation in Science Predicts National Gender-Science Stereotypes

Women’s Representation in Science Predicts National Gender-Science Stereotypes – David I. Miller and Alice H. Eagly – Northwestern University; Marcia C. Linn, University of California, Berkeley “In the past 40 years, the proportion of women in science courses and careers has dramatically increased in some nations but not in others. Our research investigated how nationalContinue Reading

WSJ Graphics – Greece’s Debt Due: What Greece Owes When

Greece is negotiating with its eurozone creditors to get more aid before the indebted government runs out of cash. Here’s what Greece owes, when, by Charles Forelle, Pat Minczeski and Elliot Bentley, laast updated May 22, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. ET. Published Feb. 19, 2015 at 2:09 p.m. ET.

Investigating With Databases: Verifying Data Quality

“The Verification Handbook for Investigative Reporting is a new guide to online search and research techniques to using user-generated content and open source information in investigations. Published by the European Journalism Centre, a GIJN member based in the Netherlands, the manual consists of ten chapters and is available for free download. We’re pleased to reprint below chapter 5,Continue Reading

Jumpstart Your Foreign, Comparative, and International Research

By Lyonette Louis Jacques & Mary Rumsey: “When we need to jumpstart our research engines to help others find information, a world of people can help us. Working as part of a global legal information community can be pretty nifty! So, if your foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) research engine won’t start, find someContinue Reading

Information Retrieval with Verbose Queries

Information Retrieval with Verbose Queries – Manish Gupta and Michael Bendersky, March 2015. “Recently, the focus of many novel search applications shifted from short keyword queries to verbose natural language queries. Examples include question answering systems and dialogue systems, voice search on mobile devices and entity search engines like Facebook’s Graph Search or Google’s KnowledgeContinue Reading

Children’s Rights Under Regional Human Rights Law – A Tale of Harmonisation?

Nolan, Aoife and Kilkelly, Ursula, Children’s Rights Under Regional Human Rights Law – A Tale of Harmonisation? (May 19, 2015). Due to appear in Buckley, Donald and Leach (eds), Harmonisation of International Human Rights Law (Brill/Martinus Nijhoff, Forthcoming). Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2608102 “This chapter focuses on an area where a high level ofContinue Reading

Human Rights Perspective on U.S. Courts and the Constitutional Regulation of Internet

Land, Molly K., A Human Rights Perspective on U.S. Courts and the Constitutional Regulation of the Internet (May 20, 2015). Forthcoming in INTERNET LAW, FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, AND CONSTITUTIONAL ADJUDICATION (Graziella Romeo & Oreste Pollicino eds., Routledge 2015). Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2608625 “This chapter examines the approaches used by the U.S. Supreme Court andContinue Reading

Psychology of the Searcher

Psychology of the Searcher – Patterns on How Searchers Formulate Queries – Blue Nile Research, April 28, 2015. “Marketers see visitors from a wide variety of search queries coming to their site.  This data is valuable in guiding a search strategy, but it has existed in a vacuum, with little known about how searchers makeContinue Reading