It's the season of the snitch - Big payouts and changes in law have whistle-blowers singing to authorities
It's the season of the snitch - Big payouts and changes in law have whistle-blowers singing to authorities.
Crain's New York Business
New York (October 27, 2014)
There is no more famous corporate whistle-blower than Sherron Watkins. Thirteen years after exposing accounting fraud at Enron, she still draws crowds eager to hear her talk about her courageous act. Yet at a conference at Baruch College last week, Ms. Watkins emphasized how difficult blowing the whistle made her life at the time, and has ever since.
After the midlevel finance executive told Chief Executive Ken Lay about the massive book-cookery she'd uncovered, Enron demoted her and moved her from a posh office on the 49th floor to one on the 16th, where the rough-edged furniture tore her clothes. And even though Time named her a "Person of the Year" in 2002, Ms. Watkins, a certified public accountant, told the students at Baruch that she has been unable to find work at another corporation or university because big institutions don't trust people with reputations as "troublemakers." Now 55 and a mother of one, Ms. Watkins supports her family by working the lecture circuit.
"It's difficult," said Ms. Watkins. "I'm fortunate to have a long career talking about being a whistle-blower, but I've got many years until retirement. The truth is most whistle-blowers make less than they were earning in their chosen careers."
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