Fired JPMorgan Wealth Manager Gets $1.1M

Verdict comes after eight years of delays and appeals; bank lawyers plan to ask judge to set verdict aside

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimond (Photo: AP) JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimond (Photo: AP)
JPMorgan Chase & Co. was ordered to pay $1.13 million to a former wealth manager who claimed she was fired eight years ago for raising fraud and money-laundering concerns about a client.

Jurors in Manhattan federal court Tuesday returned a verdict in favor of Jennifer Sharkey, who said the bank ruined her career by illegally dismissing her. Sharkey claimed JPMorgan Chase violated whistle-blower protections in the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

JPMorgan’s lawyers said they’d ask the judge to set the verdict aside. A hearing on the request is scheduled for later Tuesday.

The jury verdict came after years of delays, including two appeals that reinstated Sharkey’s claims and the replacement of a judge who said at a pretrial hearing that he’d “do anything to get rid of this case.”

A jury of five women and three men awarded Sharkey $563,000 in backpay and $563,000 for emotional damage.

“This was a hard-fought litigation over many years and on behalf of Ms. Sharkey, we thank the court for presiding over this matter and the jury for rendering its verdict in her favor,” Sharkey’s lawyer Douglas Wigdor said in a statement.

Sharkey testified that the bank fired her for raising red flags about a client, a diamond seller and founder of a telephone calling-card business, in JPMorgan Chase’s Know Your Customer process. Sharkey said the client’s work in the jewelry business, ties to businesses in the U.S. and Israel, news articles about his company’s forced bankruptcy in the 1990s and his failure to produce requested documents to the bank among risk factors the bank had identified.

Sharkey’s former boss, Leslie Lassiter testified last week that Sharkey lied numerous times when asked if she’d contacted the office of another client and that was the reason for her firing.

The case is Sharkey v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., 10-cv-03824, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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