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Former JPMorgan compliance executive settles SOX whistleblower action with bank

A compliance officer who sued JPMorgan Chase on the grounds that she was terminated for reporting weaknesses in the bank's anti-money laundering (AML) compliance programme has agreed to settle her case.

Shaquala Williams filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan in November 2021, stating that she was terminated for pointing up deficiencies in the bank's compliance programme and misrepresentations made to regulators surrounding a 2016 settlement of bribery accusations in the Asia Pacific area.

Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Williams and JPMorgan filed a settlement agreement. The agreement, which resolved charges that the bank violated the whistleblower protections of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act when it fired Williams, stipulated that it would be formalised on Friday. Neither Williams nor JPMorgan commented on the arrangement, the terms of which were not disclosed.

District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled in July that the case may proceed to trial, which was planned to begin later in the year.

Williams engaged in "protected activity" by identifying deficiencies in JPMorgan's AML compliance programme before the bank began pursuing employment actions against her, such as issuing negative performance ratings and launching an investigation into her work.

JPMorgan contended that it would have fired Williams regardless, for reasons other than her protected whistleblowing conduct. Several JPMorgan managers and at least one junior employee, according to the bank, complained about Williams' job quality and stated she fostered a hostile work environment.

In the same ruling, the judge rejected Williams's further claim that the bank obstructed a post-employment opportunity with the New York State Attorney General's office.



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