News & Politics

Man Who Blew the Whistle on Big Bank's Practices Is Now About to Lose His Home to that Same Bank

Sadly, being a whistleblower carries huge risks.

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In 2006, Robert Kraus was a controller at the Wachovia investment bank, earning good money and benefits. But he began to see practices that he believed to be illegal – ranging from fraud related to real estate loans to inadequate internal controls and accounting rules.

He went to the federal government as a whistleblower, hoping to bring an end to these practices. Yet in the process of doing so, the bank – today owned by Wells Fargo, which bought it in 2008 – fired him.

Kraus is now on the verge of losing his home. “It's impossible to support my family,” said Kraus in an interview with the Charlotte Observer. “I'm unable to find work in my field.” Court documents show that Robert and his wife are falling behind on payments for the $515,000 mortgage on their home in North Carolina. The bank that holds the mortgage is Wells Fargo, the very same bank he is in the process of helping sue.

“The reason I can't pay my mortgage is because I did my job,” he reflected. “I'm losing my house to the same bank.”

It's a sad commentary on the risks of being a truth teller.

“When a would-be whistleblower calls me, I tell them check your bank account, check your mortgage, check your marriage, check your religion, because all of these will be put under a tremendous strain,” explained University of Maryland professor and whistleblower expert Fred Alford. “You’re not just going to blow the whistle and go find another job. It’s going to become your life.”



Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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