After being fired for raising concerns about compliance, the bank claims she was let go because of performance. Her case is now in arbitration with a jury deciding her fate.
A former JPMorgan Chase & Co. compliance officer has filed a retaliation lawsuit, alleging that she was dismissed after she pointed out flaws in the bank’s anticorruption systems and expressed concerns about what she felt were false statements to regulators.
In a complaint filed Thursday, Shaquala Williams, a former JPMorgan vice president, claimed one of her worries was whether the bank’s actions breached conditions of 2016 agreements with the US Justice Department and the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to her legal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Ms. Williams joined JPMorgan’s global anticorruption compliance team in New York in July 2018 and was dismissed in November 2019 for what the bank called performance difficulties.
A JPMorgan spokesman did not reply to a request for comment right away. Ms. Williams’ lawyers refused to comment more on her allegations.
According to her lawsuit, Ms. Williams was largely responsible for overseeing and evaluating JPMorgan’s third-party intermediary program. Ms. Williams discovered multiple flaws with the program throughout her tenure at the bank, according to the lawsuit, including a lack of policies and processes relating to the practice of exempting select third parties from the bank’s compliance requirements and a lack of controls over third-party invoicing.
According to the lawsuit, she also expressed concerns about the bank’s monitoring and testing, due diligence assessments, training, and reporting systems. Ms. Williams also suspected the bank deceived regulators and the Justice Department about the status of its compliance program, according to the lawsuit.
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JPMorgan agreed to pay $264 million to the US government in 2016 for breaking anti-corruption rules. The settlements arose from an alleged conspiracy to gain banking transactions by giving important posts to Chinese government officials’ families and friends.
The bank agreed to report to regulators for three years on its attempts to upgrade its compliance procedures after reaching an administrative settlement with the SEC and a nonprosecution agreement with the Justice Department.
According to her lawsuit, Ms. Williams received a draft of a report intended to inform the Justice Department on JPMorgan’s compliance with the nonprosecution agreement in May 2019. According to her lawsuit, the draft report had multiple inaccuracies, including the bank’s statements that it had a risk-ranking system and invoicing controls when it didn’t.
According to the complaint, the Financial Conduct Authority of the United Kingdom requested a list of third-parties JPMorgan had terminated due to corruption suspicions. According to the lawsuit, the bank didn’t have such a list and had to scurry to reply based on “guesswork,” as Ms. Williams put it.
According to the complaint, Ms. Williams first expressed her concerns to her direct supervisors in JPMorgan’s anticorruption unit, then contacted more senior executives, filed written complaints with the bank’s human resources department, and finally met with a lawyer on the bank’s whistleblower legal team. It went on to say that the bank attempted to prevent her from making internal complaints, then punished by issuing her incorrect performance assessments and removing her from her tasks.
In her case, Ms. Williams claimed that voicing concerns about the bank’s compliance program was covered by a legislation that protects whistleblowers from retribution.
Dylan Tokar can be reached at [email protected].
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