Lee Fang reports: A few years go, a media firestorm erupted over the urban “Stop Snitchin” campaign promoted by gangs and a few hip hop icons. Stop Snitchin refers to the effort to intimidate informants to prevent them from cooperating with police about gang violence or drug trafficking schemes. Rapper Cam’ron received heavy scrutiny for endorsing the trend during an interview on the issue for CBS’s 60 Minutes.
A new Stop Snitchin campaign to deter would-be informants, in this case against people speaking up against crimes on Wall Street, is quietly taking shape, this time far from the media’s eye.
Financial experts and academics agree that strong whistleblower regulations could have prevented the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and indeed much of the financial crisis if employees at firms engaged in fraudulent activity had spoken up early or had reported complex crimes to the appropriate authorities. Employees at firms at the center for the financial crisis, including troubled lender Countrywide, have cited intimidation and other illicit tactics as the reason few people spoke up as whistleblowers. Since the old whistleblower laws provided for weak legal protections for informants and relatively rare rewards, the Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed last year revamped the system with new rights for informants blowing the whistle on financial crimes.
Bank lobbyists and Fox News, however, have made such protections enemy number one.