Fired for questioning transactions, says banker

Fired for questioning transactions, says banker

A former private banker at JPMorgan Chase and Co. has sued the bank, claiming that she was fired after alerting superiors to possibly questionable dealings by a top client.

The former banker, Jennifer Sharkey, said in a complaint filed in US district court in Manhattan on Monday that she was let go as a vice-president and wealth manager in August, six days after formally raising the concerns.

Darin Oduyoye, a JPMorgan spokesman, said, “We believe this case is completely without merit whatsoever." A previous complaint by Sharkey, filed with the labor department in October, was dismissed last month.

Sharkey, 37, had worked at the bank’s Park Avenue office in Manhattan since October 2006, and handled 75 clients with total assets of at least $500 million (Rs2,250 crore).

In the civil complaint, Sharkey claims that in January 2009 she inherited from a colleague an important Israeli client who had been with JPMorgan’s private bank for at least 20 years.

That month, the complaint said, Sharkey began a “know your customer" review of the account after being alerted by Morgan’s compliance and risk management team about irregularities that could signal money laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud and potential violations of federal securities laws.

In June 2009, Sharkey recommended to her bosses that the bank stop dealing with the client. The complaint does not identify the customer but says the client’s accounts had generated returns of $600,000 a year over 20 years.

Sharkey alerted three supervisors to her findings but was ignored, her complaint says. Sharkey, who earned about $150,000 a year plus a bonus, claimed she was denied her 2009 bonus of around $500,000. Her suit alleges breach of contract and seeks various damages and fees.