A series of investigative reports by WND senior staff writer Jerome Corsi on money-laundering charges by banking giant HSBC has resulted in some shocking fallout for the news agency and the reporter.
Yesterday WND reported that HSBC lodged a complaint that blocked Internet access to one of the WND stories.
Now, Corsi says the HSBC series has prompted the New York City securities firm with which he has worked to fire him.
Along with his well-known WND reporting and book-writing, Corsi has served as a senior managing director since 2010 at Gilford Securities, a Manhattan investment firm that serves institutional and retail clients.
Corsi said Gilford notified him Monday that it would file a U-5 form with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, to deregister him from the firm due to "corporate reorganization."
Gilford Securities declined comment to WND.
Corsi said the firm is responding to his series of reports on the charges of former HSBC manager John Cruz. The whistleblower has provided WND with 1,000 pages of customer account records he claims are evidence of an international money-laundering scheme by HSBC, which reportedly is under investigation by a U.S. Senate committee.
"I was completely blindsided by the reaction of the firm to the HSBC stories," Corsi said. "I thought Gilford would be proud that a member of the firm had sufficient courage to do the right thing – make public and report suspected money laundering activity when first hearing about or learning about credible allegations, regardless what firm the allegations involved."
Corsi noted that he never made any accusations about Gilford and was not investigating anything related to the firm.
"I pointed out to Gilford that firing me could create a chilling atmosphere where others in the firm might think twice before reporting suspicions of money laundering," he said.
Corsi said he is awaiting the processing of Gilford's paperwork to reach FINRA's online reporting system.
WND reported yesterday that HSBC lodged a complaint that blocked Internet access to a WND story by Corsi reporting the whistleblower's charges. The story included redacted images of customer account statements that HSBC claimed was an illegal disclosure of personally identifiable information. However, no personal information was visible in the images.
Corsi said that Gilford management gave him the choice, instead of being fired, to drop his securities registration with the firm voluntarily and to become a "consultant."
"I refused," Corsi said, "saying I had done nothing wrong, but that I should be commended, not fired, for writing the HSBC stories."
WND CEO Joseph Farah said the "lesson that needs to be understood from the fallout WND and Jerry Corsi have experienced as a result of breaking the story about a major bank's involvement with money laundering is that real investigative reporting is costly to those who undertake it."
"That's why very few news agencies and very few reporters will go near such stories with a 10-foot pole," Farah said.
Corsi explained that terminating his registration effectively fires him, removing him completely from any association with Gilford.
The securities industry requires anyone dealing with securities to be licensed and registered with a firm. According to regulations, if Corsi doesn't find another firm with which to register within two years, he will lose his licenses.
Corsi is licensed to work in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey and New York. His nine licenses include Financial and Operations Principal and General Securities Representative.
Corsi said that he spoke with Gilford Chairman Ralph Worthington in New York City last week, who said that the firm could not accept him being identified with Gilford and investigating another financial services firm.
Corsi asked why not, pointing out that when the whistleblower Cruz brought him the information on HSBC, he had a responsibility to report it and to bring it to the attention of authorities, as specified by various federal laws, including the Patriot Act.
Farah, meanwhile, pointed out that no other news agencies have picked up the HSBC story reported by WND.
"Yet, this is the kind of reporting that distinguished American journalism for the previous 200 years," he said.
Corsi and WND reported the story "without any thought as to the personal consequences," he added.
"We reported it because it was the right thing to do," Farah explained. "Corsi reported what he discovered to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies because it was the ethical thing to do. As a result, WND has faced retaliation from the bank, and Corsi has apparently lost his position with a New York financial firm.
"In America today," the WND chief concluded, "it seems, more and more, doing the right thing has consequences while doing the wrong thing doesn't."