Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thomas S. Monahan - CIBC Mellon

Thomas S. Monahan President and Chief Executive Officer
Thomas S. Monahan is President and Chief Executive Officer of CIBC Mellon. CIBC Mellon is 50-50 jointly owned by BNY Mellon and CIBC.

“We are committed to doing well by doing right,” said Tom Monahan, president and chief executive officer, CIBC Mellon. “I am proud of our performance in 2010 as a company, as a corporate citizen, and as an organization committed to taking responsibility for the impact of our actions on our stakeholders.”


Harry Migirdic
In a landmark case, Montreal Superior Court Judge Jean-Pierre Senècal awarded more than $3 million, including $1.5 million in punitive damages, to retirees Haroutioun and Alice Markarian, who had unwittingly guaranteed the trading losses of people they didn't know at the behest of their former CIBC Wood Gundy broker, Harry Migirdic. The brokerage invoked the guarantees to seize $1.4 million from the Markarians in 2001, leaving $2.54 in their accounts.

Senècal called CIBC's conduct "reprehensible" and said it "cruelly failed" in its duty to protect its clients and supervise its employee. CIBC subsequently settled out of court with several other former clients of Migirdic, who was terminated in 2001.
[614] Daniel Bowering, Compliance Department officer, was mandated by CIBC to investigate Migirdic's fraud and he testified. He wrote to his bosses at the end of his investigation that the firm should probably absorb the Markarians' losses, given all the irregularities committed by Migirdic, Migirdic's statements, the Markarians' statements and all the information revealed in Bowering's investigation. Bowering's recommendation was not followed.
[615]So why was everything blocked? Why were the false guarantees exercised? Why did CIBC seize the Markarians' assets?
[616] Because Tom Monahan, the president of CIBC Wood Gundy, decided that was what to do.
[621] Monahan acknowledged that Migirdic's fraud justified his dismissal. He acknowledged that it did not, however, prevent ... the guarantees from being executed.
[638]CIBC thus became the accomplice in Migirdic's fraud and did everything in its power to benefit from it directly.

Thomas S. Monahan President and Chief Executive Officer
He said the brokerage appropriated the money illegally, treated the Markarians in an arrogant and "degrading" manner and "cruelly failed" to control and supervise its employee. "CIBC must assume responsibility for the fraud of which (the Markarians) were victims," Judge Senecal said. "It was responsible not only indirectly, but directly."

"The brokerage's behaviour was both reprehensible and irresponsible."

Why didn't CIBC World Markets go to the police as well? Why didn't they just settle with the Markarians in 2001 instead of forcing them through 5 years of hell?

CIBC World Markets withdrew their appeal and paid the $1.5 million in punitive damages one month after the court decision.
"A quintessential up-by-the-bootstraps success story, Markarian arrived in Montreal from Egypt in 1962 with $300 in his pocket and co-founded his own mechanical company. He sold the business and retired in 1993 with a nest egg of $4.5 million."

"In March of 2001, CIBC Wood Gundy called Markarian and his wife into a meeting with Thomas Noonan—Migirdic’s boss—and a lawyer employed by the bank. Noonan showed the Markarians the signed guarantees, receiving confirmation it was Haroutioun’s signature. Noonan then told the Markarians that they now owed the bank $1.35 million. Their accounts were frozen and they could no longer carry out any transactions.

Noonan and the lawyer never uttered a word to the elderly couple about Migirdic’s fraud or confession. Markarian, sixty-eight years old at the time, went into shock. At the end of the meeting, he was unable to stand up, and had to be helped out of the room. He could not speak for fifteen minutes, then began asking his wife, “Is it a dream, Alice? Is it true?” Once home, a doctor was called to his bedside.

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"IN THE END, Migirdic turned himself in. Stressed by his growing web of deceit, he contacted Wood Gundy head Thomas Monahan in February of 2001 and admitted there were “problems” with certain accounts. Monahan told Migirdic to write down the details of the fraud, and Migirdic indicated he deceived Markarian about the documents he was asked to sign. When Migirdic met with his superiors, he reiterated that Markarian never knew he was guaranteeing the debts of perfect strangers."

"Did you consider that [Migirdic] obtained a fraudulent signature of Mr. Markarian on the guarantees? Was it one of the facts that justified his dismissal?” Létourneau asked Monahan.

Monahan rambled, realizing he was stuck in a contradiction: why fire Migirdic unless he’d committed fraud? “But we didn’t know that it had been fraudulent,” Monahan replied. “We knew that that was what he said…and we knew that we had reliable guarantees that had been duly signed by a sophisticated businessman.”
Monahan finally conceded that Markarian “was deceived by Mr. Migirdic.” Still, when Létourneau asked Monahan whether he felt justified in taking Markarian’s money, Monahan responded, “Yes.” “You still maintain it today?” “Yes.”

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