The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. has reached an agreement with the state of Virginia concerning accusations that the bank charged hidden markups on currency transactions to Virginia’s employee pension fund. The deal also involves a $1.1 million payment to a whistleblower group.
Pension funds in Virginia, as well as in other states and municipalities, have accused Bank of New York and custodial bank State Street Corp. of deceiving them by using a least-favorable high or low range to price their currency trades and then pocketing the difference, according to a Nov. 9 Dow Jones Newswires story.
The whistleblower in the case is Grant Wilson, a Japanese yen trader on one of BNY Mellon’s foreign exchange desks in Pittsburgh. For the last two of the 10 years he worked with Mellon, Wilson collected information and documents to assist government investigators and a plaintiff legal group, FX Analytics, into the alleged practices at the bank. The information he provided detailed how the alleged scheme worked and how much BNY Mellon made as a result.
Wilson’s actions are among the first under a new initiative by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to incorporate whistleblowers into its securities fraud prevention strategies. The program, which was launched under the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, rewards whistleblowers 10% to 30% of the proceeds in cases where penalties exceed $1 million. Since the program’s inception, tips from informants have surged.