Author Tom Mueller on Financial Crime in the ‘Age of the Whistleblower’
04 May 2020

Don’t accuse whistleblowers of being in it for the money.

So says Tom Mueller, author of Crisis of Conscience: Whistleblowing in an Age of Fraud, during a recent episode of KYC360’s AML Talk Show hosted by Martin Woods.

“The vast majority of whistleblowers that I interviewed, their career ended when they blew the whistle and they went public,” said Mueller. “They no longer were employed or employable in their chosen field. That is a huge financial loss and an enormous risk, and an enormous difficulty to put you, and your family above all, in.”

Despite those risks, more whistleblowers are publicly known today than ever before, in part because of their prominence on the Internet and in films of the past decade, said Mueller, adding that the number of laws intended to protect whistleblowing has also grown significantly in recent years.

At the same time, financial crooks and corrupt corporations have sought to whitewash their reputations through philanthropy and financial reports that tout ethics standards and compliance controls ostensibly designed to prevent fraud, he said.

“Enron is a classic example. They had a magnificent compliance manual and all kinds of ethical language, and gold standard this and that, and they were a fraud vehicle,” Mueller said. “Sometimes words can really paper over and also reassure people within the company that they hear the word ‘ethical’ and we’re doing the ethical thing and we must be ethical. And so, they can slide along a little farther down the slippery slope of fraud.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Mueller and Woods also discussed the psychology of whistleblowers, the prevalence of organized crime and the need to better enforce criminal laws against senior executives involved in malfeasance.

Listen to the full podcast here

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