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Ex-bank regulator: We don't understand 'how systemically broken the system is'

Carmen Segarra, a former New York Federal Reserve expert examiner who was embedded at Goldman Sachs between November 2011 and May 2012, believes that our banking system is “broken” because of institutionally weak oversight.

“I don’t think that we have appropriately understood how systemically broken the system is,” Segarra told Yahoo Finance’s Final Round on Thursday. “I don’t think that has been baked into the calculations that are made in Wall Street in terms of how the dollar is valued, how much systemic risk is being injected by the failure to supervise banks.”

In her new book, “Noncompliant: A lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street,” Segarra argues that those who flout the rules are actually rewarded as opposed to being reprimanded.

“This is a culture that rewards bad behavior systemically,” she said. “And so because the issue is so systemic, fixing it is going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort.”

Carmen Segarra, former Goldman Sachs regulator and author of the new book, “Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street,” discusses her work on The Final Round. (Photo: Yahoo Finance).

In 2013, Segarra filed a lawsuit against the New York Fed and her supervisors. Both the case and the subsequent appeal were dismissed. In 2014, she provided ProPublica and “This American Life” with 46 hours of recorded conversations with colleagues during her time at the Fed.

‘It was very clear, very quickly’

Seven years ago, Segarra was hired by the New York Fed to keep an eye on bad behavior in the reverberating wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

She was assigned to examine Goldman Sachs (GS), and says she found issues immediately. She claims she was fired after raising concerns that the bank did not have adequate conflict-of-interest policies. 

“When I arrived, I thought, well, you know, I’m coming in to help fix the supervision issues at the Fed,” she said. “I was coming in after, you know, after the first landing in Omaha Beach, you know, third wave,” Segarra explains, referencing World War II’s Normandy Landings.

“You know, where there had been other people who have landed before and not failed — and have failed to take that beach. So I thought it was time when things would actually change. And it was very clear, very quickly that this was just not the game that they were playing.”

Vehicles pass in front of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. headquarters in New York, U.S., on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Photo: Christopher Lee/Bloomberg)

‘Nothing has changed’

Segarra says nothing has changed since her termination.

“I would say that the biggest proof that nothing has changed is that you have David Solomon as CEO of Goldman Sachs,” she argues. “I mean, the book lays out a very compelling case for the fact that his unit was in shambles, that he was running a unit that from a legal and compliance standpoint had deep issues.”

She further claims that the Fed was “very well aware of these issues.” Ans she asserts that without the will to rein in the banks, we are not ready in case another crisis hits.

Her book focuses on her experience at Goldman Sachs, but she doesn’t dismiss the possibility of this behavior happening elsewhere.

“Who knows what else is going on out there,” she said.

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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