Government officials are orchestrating a reversal of fortune for workers as they target low-level employees of major financial institutions, leaving the big fish in their corner offices.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
FORTUNE -- You work hard. You do your job. You follow orders. If the directives seem wrong, you try to figure out how you can reconcile your initial impression with what your bosses want. You express skepticism, but ultimately you do what you're told. You do need your paycheck, don't you?
Beware. These days, behaving that way could lead to your prosecution, especially when your boss is willing to throw you under the bus and testify against you.
Think: J.P. Morgan (JPM) and the London Whale. It's not CEO Jamie Dimon who's catching the heat from prosecutors. It's former employees Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout. And at Goldman (GS), it wasn't CEO Lloyd Blankfein or President Gary Cohn. It was former trader Fabrice Tourre.
Government officials are orchestrating a reversal of fortune for workers. In a previous era, prosecutors went to the little guys first to catch the big fish. But these days, prosecutors preen in front of the cameras to blame the head honchos while they lay out their cases against members of the rank and file.
Scapegoats have been used like this since the dawn of time. The SEC and its prosecutors won't change what it is currently doing. It will likely remain this way as long as corporations can legally bribe our government in the form of lobbying and etc.