We all know that every business aims to get bigger and bigger. Sometimes the business and the individuals within that business get so big, that they don’t think the rules apply to them anymore or that they don’t care about the rules. When this happens, it normally takes an individual on the inside to take a stand against what they have seen going on and to make it public.
As a result, these individuals are often dismissed and threatened with lawsuits in which they are accused of, among other things, breaking confidentially agreements, fraud, and corruption. As a result of many high profile cases, a few of which are listed below has seen the emergence of whistleblower retaliation lawyers – Healthcare Fraud Group LLC being one example, to protect those who expose unethical or illegal behavior in business.
This whistleblower is so famous that he became the inspiration for a movie starring no less than Russel Crowe. The 1999 film ‘The Insider’ finds the foundations in the tale of the man that exposed ‘big tobacco’ and the way they increased the level of nicotine in cigarette smoke to intentionally make it more addictive.
His revelations came to light after he was fired as head of R&D at one of the biggest tobacco companies. His story was featured in the Wall Street Journal and a televised (but originally pulled) interview on ’60 minutes’. This became the nation’s biggest story, coming as it did at the time when several top tobacco executives were testifying to Congress that cigarettes were not addictive at all.
When Mark Whitacre discovered that the pharmaceutical firm, Arthur Daniels Midland, which he worked for as an executive was involved in price-fixing, his wife pressed him to act. Soon after, in 1995 he began giving the FBI information about their activities to increase profits by manipulating the price of the food additive lysine.
Just like Jeffrey Wigand, Mark was the inspiration for a film. The 2000 book ‘The Informant’ turned into the 2009 movie of the same name starring Matt Damon. There is a sting in the tail of this story, however, in that Whitacre spent several years in prison after admitting to tax evasion and fraud.
Not quite an insider or an informant, but this independent financial fraud investigator exposed one of the biggest frauds in modern history so is worth a mention here. In 2000, he started issuing warnings about Bernard Madoff’s scheme, something he later said took him five minutes to notice that it was a fraud, and that the returns of between 12 and 20 percent were not possible and that it was a Ponzi scheme.
Despite his protestations, nobody including the SEC paid any attention until it was too late, causing him to name his book “No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller.”
There are many more famous whistleblowers throughout history involving Watergate (W. Mark Felt) and the New York Police Department (Frank Serpico) showing that it is not just limited to big business.