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Cooperating with FBI probe cost me my job, ex-JPMorgan broker claims

A former J.P. Morgan Securities broker sued the firm, claiming he was threatened and fired as punishment for cooperating in a federal investigation involving a high-profile fund manager who was a "prized depositor."

Barry Snyder’s complaint depicts him as a victim of federal investigators and the bank, with both sides threatening him and turning on him.

“The authorities instructed Snyder to help their investigation and that anything less than 100% cooperation would not be tolerated and could cause Snyder significant hardship,” according to the complaint. He said he was told if he discussed the investigation with anyone, it would be obstruction of justice.

Snyder worked in Palm Beach, Florida, and was previously employed by Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank. He was ranked 22nd in Barron’s 2008 survey of financial advisors.

He moved to J.P. Morgan Securities in 2013, and as usual, he said, he brought his clients with him.

He was at J.P. Morgan Securities for about one and a half years when he got a "surprise visit" at his home from federal authorities including the FBI in the fall of 2015, according to the complaint. He said he was ordered to report to their offices in South Florida within 24 hours and instructed not to mention the visit to anyone including his employer.

Signage stands on display outside the JPMorgan & Chase Tower in downtown Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.  AKA J.P. Morgan.
Signage stands on display outside the JPMorgan & Chase Tower in downtown Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is scheduled to release earning figures on October 12. Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg

During the visit, Snyder said he was told there was a criminal securities fraud probe involving an "important fund principal" with JPMorgan and other professionals associated with him. The fund manager isn’t being sued, nor was identified in the complaint. The manager publicly settled with authorities later, Snyder said.

Snyder knew the fund manager socially but wasn’t his broker, although he was aware the client did substantial business with the bank, according to the lawsuit. The investigators told Snyder they believed he had information pertinent to the probe and ordered him to cooperate.

Snyder said he followed the instructions for several months, meeting with investigators often, before he decided to stop, angering the authorities. They responded with a subpoena to J.P. Morgan Securities “in order to teach Snyder a lesson,” according to the lawsuit.

FBI spokesman in Miami, Jim Marshall, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Snyder said he was then ordered to report to the company’s general counsel, who pressed him for information on the investigation. When he refused, because he was complying with the orders from the investigators, J.P. Morgan Securities fired him, he said.

Darin Oduyoye, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, declined to immediately comment on the lawsuit.

Snyder is seeking more than $15 million in damages and a retraction of the “false, defamatory and inflammatory” language in his industry termination notice.