Former Deutsche Bank LatAm Transactions Head Wins Millions In Whistleblower Retaliation Case

August 10, 2015

Today's featured arbitration Claimant was a big shot at Deutsche Bank; except, geez, you really wouldn't know it from reading the FINRA Arbitration Decision. Although this high-profile executive filed a whistleblower retaliation claim against his former firm and sought millions in damages, we don't learn about the substance underlying his complaints. As many Blog readers know, I often complain about the lack of adequate "content and context" in FINRA Arbitration Decisions; and, sadly, what emanates from this FINRA arbitration is more titillation than substance. 

Case In Point

Jorge Daniel Usandivaras filed a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") Arbitration Statement of Claim filed in April 2013. In the Matter of the FINRA Arbitration Between Jorge Daniel Usandivaras, Claimant, vs. Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc., Respondent (FINRA Arbitration 13-01220, July 31, 2015). At this point, let me step back and present to you verbatim extracts from the Usandivaras Arbitration Decision:


Claimant asserted the following causes of action; whistleblower retaliation in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002; 18 U.S.C. Section 1514A; breach of contract; and violation of NY Labor Law. 

Unless specifically admitted in its Answer and Amended Answer, Respondent denied the allegations made in the Statement of Claim and Amended Statement of Claim and asserted various affirmative defenses. 


In the Statement of Claim, and Amended Statement of Claim, Claimant requested compensatory damages in the amount of $4,500,000.00, that the Panel declare that the actions, conduct, and practices of Respondent violated the laws of the United States: an order directing Respondent to place Claimant in the position he would have occupied but for Respondent's retaliatory treatment and otherwise unlawful conduct, as well as to take such affirmative action as is necessary to ensure that the effects of these unlawful employment practices are eliminated and do not continue to affect his employment and personal life; an award of damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus prejudgment interest, to compensate Claimant for all monetary and/or economic damages, including but not limited to, the loss of past and future income, wages, compensation, and other benefits of employment; an award of damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus prejudgment interest, to compensate Claimant for all nonmonetary and/or compensatory damages, including but not limited to, compensation for his mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, stress and anxiety, emotional pain and suffering and emotional distress; an award of damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus prejudgment interest, to compensate Claimant for harm to his professional and personal reputation and loss of career fulfillment; costs; reasonable attorneys' fees to the fullest extent permitted by law; an award of damages for unpaid wages, including unpaid benefits, as provided under New York Labor Law, plus 100% liquidated damages, as provided by the statute; and such other and further damages as may be proven at trial; and such other and further relief as the Panel may deem appropriate. 

At the hearing, Claimant requested compensatory damages in the amount of $17,000,000.00. . .

Unanswered Questions

In reviewing the FINRA Arbitration Decision's presentation of the underlying facts, I found myself puzzled -- even after re-reading the Case Summary  and Relief Requested sections. To be clear, there is nothing else of substance in the Decision before the disclosure of the Award (if any) and the anticipated rationale from the Arbitrators. At this juncture, a number of questions came to mind:

What was Claimant Usandivaras's title and role at Respondent Deutsche Bank? 
What was the substance of his alleged whistleblowing? 
What constituted the alleged acts of retaliation against him? 
What were the unlawful employment practices?
How was Claimant's professional and personal reputation harmed? 
What elements went into the computation of Claimant's $4.5 million and subsequent $17 million in damages? 

Hopefully, by the time we get to the "AWARD" section of this FINRA Arbitration Decision, many, if not most, of my questions will be answered.

Alas, here is the verbatim conclusion by the Panelists:


After considering the pleadings, the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing, the Panel has decided in full and final resolution of the issues submitted for determination as follows: 
1. Respondent is liable for and shall pay to Claimant compensatory damages in the amount of $3,000,000.00. 
2. Any and all relief not specifically addressed herein, including liquidated damages, is denied.

Bill Singer's Comment

According to the Decision, a former Deutsche Bank employee (title and duties unstated) alleged that he had, in part, been victimized for whistleblowing (the nature of which is not set forth) and he sought $17 million in damages.  About the only thing we know happened is that a FINRA Arbitration Panel rendered an award for $3 million. 

Why did the FINRA Arbitrators rule in this Usandivaras's favor? Dunno. 

Why did the Panel award him $3 million and not the requested $17 million? Dunno. 

What the hell went on between Claimant and Respondent that prompted this lawsuit? Dunno.

Given the multi-million dollar award and the serious allegations by the Claimant, why didn't the Panel refer this matter to FINRA for a regulatory inquiry? Dunno.

Hopefully, you now better appreciate my ongoing history of complaints about the lack of content and context in these FINRA Arbitration Decisions.

Out of an abundance of curiosity, I did some brief online research and discovered that according to Claimant Usandivaras's Linked-In page he is a Harvard Law School graduate and appears to have been on Wall Street since 1997, during which time he was employed by Ernst & Young, ABN AMRO, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Banco Itau.

An April 12,  2010 Press Release from Deutsche Bank announcing Mr. Usandivaras's hiring asserted in pertinent part that:

Deutsche Bank's Emerging Markets business, within its Global Markets division, today announced several key hires in Latin America sales and trading in New York.
Jorge Daniel Usandivaras will join as a Managing Director and Head of Latin American Strategic Transactions. He will report to Manuel Schnaidman, Managing Director and Head of the Fixed Income Strategic Transactions Group in North America and Gonzalo Barbon and Federico Infantino, Managing Directors and Co-Heads of Emerging Markets Structuring for Latin America. Usandivaras joins from Banco Itau, where he was a Senior Executive Officer. Prior to joining Itau, he was a Managing Director and Head of New Product Development for Latin America at Merrill Lynch . . .
Usandivaras was not some low-level flunky at Deutsche Bank; to the contrary, he was hired as a Managing Director and Head of the firm's Latin American Strategic Transactions. His pedigree leading up to that hire is equally impressive. He made some troubling allegations against his former employer and wound up taking his complaints through a fully-contested FINRA arbitration.  In the end, the only thing we truly know is that he was awarded $3 million -- as to why the Panel ruled in Usandivaras's favor, as to what causes of action prevailed, and why he did not win more or less dollars . . . alas, welcome to my world.