Whistleblower Tour Sheds Light on Growing Concerns in Businesses

Michael Ortega/ Staff Writer 
With the rise of corruption in business, the only solution is to seek out the few who can stand up for what is right. The American Whistleblower Tour made its return to FIU on Feb. 7 to shed some light on this situation.
The program was brought to FIU by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, College of Law, School of Accounting and The Government Accountability Project.”It has been great to come back to FIU. It is always a pleasure to see and get to know so many bright minds,” said Louis Clark, president and corporate & financial accountability director of the GAP. “FIU always brings great questions and knowledge to these conferences.”

The American Whistleblower Tour has been touring city to city educating the public about the phenomenon of whistle blowing, its benefits and all of its adversity. According to the GAP, every year thousands of workers witness corruption on the job. Most employees remain silent, but a brave few choose to speak up about this corruption by blowing the whistle on this injustice.

“Standing up to the boss is never easy, but you have to judge what is wrong and right. Most people want to say something but are scared of the repercussions that come from blowing the whistle,” said Clark. “Always remember you have help from the outside, others will want to help when you bring the story to light.”
The tour also speaks about the six steps of whistle blowing and the proper way of doing so in a business location.Some of the notable accomplishments by whistle blowers are the White House wrongly editing climate change documents and potential problems with pink slime in American beef, Clark said.

The tour had two featured speakers Eric Ben-Artzi, a former risk analyst at Deutsche Bank and Michael Winston, a former high-level executive at Countrywide Financial.

Artzi spoke about discovering detailed evidence of multi-billion dollar securities violations which formed from the bank’s failure to report the value of its credit derivative portfolio.
Bringing these callous accusations to the public was harder than imagined and even led to his termination of his job.

“I am not here to tell you to become a whistleblower, but to say something if you see something,” said Artzi. “Many students stated, ‘Why speak up if you have so many hardships from speaking up?’, but we came to state some of the brighter sides of this. You have to remember this is the right thing to do.”

Winston spoke of discovering that Countrywide Home Loans and Bank of America were approving large loans for people with no jobs and very small incomes.

He also spoke of how he has fought this battle over five years and how it has affected him and his family. The problems have even escalated to the point of him and his family being followed and being forced to move more than once.”I never regretted what I did because, I knew it wasn’t right what they were doing to so many people. It would damage the clients for the rest of their lives,” said Winston. “What Eric and I did was not being a whistleblower, but doing our jobs.”

The show ended with a Q&A for the audience of students, faculty and media personnel. After the conference, students expressed their opinions about the tour.
“I cannot believe some of the things that have happened to these men, who stood up for what is right,” said sophomore psychology major Kayla Nahir. “I am glad to see that there are still good people out there fighting for what is right. I am willing to stand for what is right if I have to.”
However, not all students feel as passionately as Nahir does.
Sophomore law student Alma Cruz said, “I agree what these men did was the right thing but it’s hard to imagine too many other people doing that. It seems to put so much stress on someone,” Cruz said. “Things of this nature will probably never disappear and may get out of hand one day.”