Jordan A. Thomas

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Jordan A. Thomas
Jordan A. Thomas
Jordan A. Thomas
Alma materSouthwestern University School of Law, J.D., Bennington College, B.A.
Occupation(s)Attorney, Whistleblower Advocate
Years active1995–present
Organization(s)Chair, SEC Whistleblower Advocates PLLC

Jordan Andolini Thomas (born Paul Thompson)[1] is an American attorney, writer, speaker and media commentator.[2] He is a partner and Chair of the firm SEC Whistleblower Advocates PLLC,[3] where he represents whistleblowers reporting violations of the federal securities laws to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).[4]

Thomas began his legal career in the public sector as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Navy (1995–1999).[5] Thomas then became a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice (1999–2003), before getting hired by the SEC where he rose to the position of Assistant Director after serving as Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel in the SEC's Division of Enforcement (2003–2011).

Early life and education[edit]

Thomas was born in Los Angeles, California. His mother was a white former nun turned school teacher and his father was a black former judge turned fixer.[1]

In an NPR interview, Thomas described his father as someone who believed “the world is rigged, the ends justify the means, and you’re either pulling the strings or you’re the puppet.”[1] In his early years, Thomas idolized his father and acknowledged that he was willing “to do illegal and unethical things” to earn his love.[1] He came to see the error of those ways and has long since made clear: “I am not proud of it and have spent the better part of my life trying to make amends.”[1]

Thomas described reinventing himself as a young adult, “essentially putting myself into a witness protection program of my own making.”[1] He moved to Vermont to get away from his past life, legally changing his name to Jordan Andolini Thomas.[6] Thomas chose his new first name because he admired Michael Jordan. He chose the middle name "Andolini" because it was the actual surname of the fictional Corleone crime family in The Godfather (novel), and Thomas related to Michael Corleone's efforts to break away from his corrupt family. His new last name was simply based on similarity to his given, prior last name of Thompson.[1]

While in Vermont, Thomas attended Bennington College, where he received his B.A. He then earned his J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law.[2]

Professional history[edit]

SEC Enforcement experience[edit]

While at the SEC, Thomas played a role in the development of the SEC Whistleblower Program, established under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.[5] Thomas also developed and served as the first National Coordinator of the SEC's Cooperation Program, designed to encourage individuals and companies to self-report violations of the federal securities laws and to participate in the SEC's investigations and enforcement actions.[7]

Private whistleblower representation[edit]

After leaving the SEC, Thomas joined Labaton Sucharow LLP as a partner.[8] He founded and chairs a national legal practice exclusively devoted to protecting and advocating for whistleblowers who report possible securities violations to the SEC.[5] The practice is now organized in the firm of SEC Whistleblower Advocates PLLC.[9]

In explaining his decision to leave the Commission, Thomas said, "I believe the SEC whistleblower program will revolutionize the way the SEC enforces the securities laws. And having helped give birth to the program, I would like to be part of seeing it be successful."[10]

In private practice, he has risen to national prominence. The Wall Street Journal has described him as “one of the most prominent attorneys representing whistleblowers before the government.”[11] Likewise, NPR has referred to him as “one of the top whistleblower lawyers in the country.”[1] And the New York Times has described his team as “one of the top legal practices in the country representing corporate whistle-blowers.”[6] Over the years, he represented the first officer of a public company to win an SEC whistleblower award, the first SEC whistleblower to receive criminal immunity and the first SEC whistleblower to receive an award because his company retaliated against him.[12][13][14][15][16][17] In 2018, his clients won the then-largest SEC Whistleblower award in history for a single case, $83 million.[6]

Whistleblower cases[edit]

JPMorgan—Thomas represented a whistleblower responsible for the SEC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission's $307 million settlements with two J.P. Morgan wealth management subsidiaries in December 2015.[18][19][20] The New York Times called the settlement a "black mark for JPMorgan's asset management division," which had over $1 trillion of assets under management.[21][22] From 2008 to 2015, the subsidiaries failed to disclose numerous material conflicts of interest including, but not limited to, their preference for investing in the firm's more expensive proprietary investment products or third-party managed hedge funds that made payments to a JPMorgan affiliate.[23]

Merrill Lynch—Thomas represented the whistleblowers responsible for the SEC's $415 million settlement with Merrill Lynch in June 2016.[24][25][26][27] In discussing the importance of the record-setting settlement, Andrew Ceresney, the SEC Director of Enforcement, said "[t]he rules concerning the safety of customer cash and securities are fundamental protections for investors and impose lines that simply can never be crossed."[28] From 2009 to 2015, Merrill Lynch misused customer cash to generate profits for the firm, failed to safeguard customer securities from the claims of creditors and used illegal secrecy agreements that impeded employees from voluntarily providing information to the SEC.[22] The wrongdoing in this case led to a new industry-wide initiative by the Commission to find similar violations by other firms and was "by far the largest customer protection settlement in SEC history."[29][30][25]

Visium Asset Management—Thomas represented the whistleblower responsible for the Department of Justice and SEC investigations of Visium Asset Management, an $8 billion hedge fund.[31] The whistleblower had himself been part of the scheme he reported.[31] Law enforcement and regulatory authorities charged that three rogue portfolio managers at the firm had mishandled the valuation of its credit portfolio, and that two of them had engaged in insider trading.[32][33][34] The investigation led to the 2016 wind-down of a Wall Street behemoth and the successful criminal prosecution of one rogue trader, as a second rogue trader pleaded guilty.[35] It was the most high-profile shutdown since Steve Cohen's SAC Capital closed in 2013.[36]

Harbert Management—Thomas represented, with co-counsel from Getnick & Getnick LLP, the whistleblower responsible for the New York Attorney General's $40 million settlement with Alabama-based Harbert Management Corporation and top executives at the firm in April 2017.[37] Harbert Management was the fund sponsor for Harbinger Capital Partners, a $26 billion hedge fund based in New York City. The settlement, the largest-ever recovery of its kind, resolved whistleblower allegations that members of Harbinger's investment manager failed to pay millions in New York State tax on performance income for several years. Attorney General Schneiderman praised the whistleblower's "vital assistance in bringing this matter to light" and stated, "our investigation uncovered a brazen and deliberate decision to avoid paying millions in taxes owed to New York State. Harbert Management made a clear choice to skirt the rules and as a result, ordinary New York taxpayers were left footing the bill."[38]

Orthofix International—Thomas represented two whistleblowers responsible for the SEC's $8.25 million settlement with Orthofix International, a Texas-based medical device company, in January 2017.[22] His clients, Wall Street analysts, tipped the government to the most serious charges facing the company, accounting failures that caused the company to materially misstate financial statements from at least 2011 to the first quarter of 2013.[39] "Orthofix's accounting failures were widespread and significant, causing Orthofix to make false statements to the public about its financial condition," said Antonia Chion, Associate Director in the SEC's Enforcement Division.[40]

Public whistleblower advocacy[edit]

Domestically, Thomas has lobbied key stakeholders to preserve the pillars of the SEC Whistleblower Program—anonymous reporting, employment protections and monetary awards. As an invited whistleblowing panelist, he contributed to the United States’ Phase 4 Report Implementing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.[41] Troubled by the use of secrecy agreements and retaliation to silence SEC whistleblowers, in partnership with the Government Accountability Project, he led a coalition of more than 250 organizations and nearly two million citizens to petition the SEC for action.[42][43] Following this grassroots advocacy, the Commission has aggressively prosecuted numerous prominent companies for engaging in these illegal practices.[44]

Internationally, Thomas has been invited to engagements at the United Nations, UK House of Commons and Australian Parliament.[45][46][47][48] Following public hearings which included his testimony about the SEC Whistleblower Program and its potential application in Ontario, the Ontario Securities Commission established a whistleblower program.[49][50][51][52][53] Similarly, after a review of the issue that included several international assistance visits by him and his testimony before the Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, the Australian government agreed to introduce stronger corporate whistleblower protections and to conduct a parliamentary inquiry into the merits of introducing a corporate whistleblower program in Australia.[54][47][48]

He is one of several prominent experts who are regularly quoted on whistleblower issues.[55][56][57]

Other advocacy[edit]

He has served as the Chair of the Investor Rights Committee of the District of Columbia Bar[58] and as a board member of the City Bar Justice Center, the pro bono affiliate of the New York City Bar Association. (2013–16).[59]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2020, Thomas was named to the “Enforcement 40” by Securities Docket,[60] and to the “500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyers” by Law Dragon.[61]

In 2019, Thomas was named a “Distinguished Leader” by the New York Law Journal,[62] and a “Top Thought Leader In Trust” by Trust Across America.[63]

In 2018, Thomas was named “Lawyer of the Year” by Taxpayers Against Fraud Educational Fund,[64] a “Plaintiff Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal,[65] an “MVP in Securities Law” by Law360,[66] and was shortlisted for “Plaintiff Attorney of the Year” by Benchmark Litigation.[67]

In 2017, Labaton Sucharow was shortlisted among the Financial Times Most Innovative North American Law Firms List as a "Standout" in the Rule of Law and Access to Justice category and Thomas was specifically identified for his work exposing corporate wrongdoing.[68]

In both 2013 and 2012, the Ethisphere Institute named Thomas to its listing of "Attorneys Who Matter," which recognizes practitioners in the world of corporate ethics and compliance.[69]

In 2012, Thomas was named a "Legal Rebel" by the American Bar Association Journal.[2]

While at the SEC, Thomas received four Chairman's Awards, four Division Director's Awards and a Letter of Commendation from the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.[70]

Thomas was twice awarded the Rear Admiral Hugh H. Howell Award of Excellence.[70]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Episode 916: The Whistleblower Whisperer". 17:40. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  2. ^ a b c "Jordan Thomas Wrote the Rules on--and Represents--Whistleblowers". Stephanie Francis Ward. Retrieved 2017-10-31.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ "Labaton's Jordan Thomas splits to form SEC whistleblower law firm". Reuters. Retrieved 2022-01-16.
  4. ^ "Labaton Sucharow Hires Former SEC Attorney Jordan Thomas". 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  5. ^ a b c Rubenfeld, Samuel (2011-07-12). "SEC Lawyer Leaves To Help Whistleblowers". WSJ. Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  6. ^ a b c Smith, Randall (2018-03-20). "Once an S.E.C. Regulator, Now Thriving as a Lawyer for Whistle-Blowers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  7. ^ Wolfe, Jan (July 13, 2011). "Q&A with Jordan Thomas, Outgoing SEC Enforcement Lawyer and Labaton Sucharow's New Whistleblower Practice Chief" (PDF). Labaton Sucharow.
  8. ^ "Senior SEC Attorney Joins Labaton Sucharow To Launch Whistleblower Practice: An Architect of Revolutionary Enforcement Programs Joins Firm Widely Regarded for Commitment to Reform". Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  9. ^ "Ex-Labaton Team Forms Firm For SEC Whistleblowers". Law360. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  10. ^ "Jordan A. Thomas Sets Up SEC Whistleblower Shop at Labaton - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  11. ^ "Bernie Madoff's Legacy: Whistleblower Inc". Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  12. ^ "SEC Can Turn Most-Trusted Execs Into Whistleblowers - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  13. ^ "Ex-Visium trader tells New York jury how he turned whistleblower". Reuters. 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  14. ^ "SEC Gives More Than $600,000 to Whistleblower in Retaliation Case - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  15. ^ "Hedge fund settles SEC case over whistleblower retaliation". Reuters. 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  16. ^ "SEC Accuses Firm of Whistleblower Retaliation - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  17. ^ Elstein, Aaron. "SEC fines firm for punishing a whistle-blower". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  18. ^ "J.P. Morgan Will Pay $307 Million to SEC, CFTC for Failing to Disclose Conflicts - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  19. ^ "Labaton Chases Whistleblower Record In JPMorgan Case - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  20. ^ "J.P. Morgan to Pay $307 Million to Settle Charges of Pushing Proprietary Strategies - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  21. ^ Popper, Nathaniel (2015-12-18). "JPMorgan to Pay $307 Million for Steering Clients to Own Funds". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  22. ^ a b c "SEC Sanctions Database - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  23. ^ " | J.P. Morgan to Pay $267 Million for Disclosure Failures". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  24. ^ "Bank of America to Pay $415 Million to Settle SEC Probe - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  25. ^ a b "Merrill Lynch to pay $415 million for misusing customer cash: SEC - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  26. ^ "Bank of America Pays $430M in Settlement for Misusing Customers' Cash - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  27. ^ "BofA to Pay $415 Million Over Claims It Misused Client Funds - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  28. ^ Moyer, Liz (2016-06-23). "Bank of America to Pay $415 Million to Settle S.E.C. Inquiry". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  29. ^ " | Merrill Lynch to Pay $415 Million for Misusing Customer Cash and Putting Customer Securities at Risk". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  30. ^ " | Customer Protection Rule Initiative". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  31. ^ a b "SEC Whistleblower Prodded On Misconduct At Fraud Trial - Law360". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  32. ^ "Hedge Fund Portfolio Manager Sanjay Valvani And Former Portfolio Manager Stefan Lumiere Charged In Manhattan Federal Court". 15 June 2016. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  33. ^ " | Hedge Fund Managers and Former Government Official Charged in $32 Million Insider Trading Scheme". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  34. ^ Henning, Peter J. (2016-09-06). "Whistle-Blowing Insiders: 'Game Changer' for the S.E.C." The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  35. ^ "CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Ex-Visium fund manager convicted of fraud by Manhattan jury". Reuters. 2017-01-20. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  36. ^ "Wall Street has been rocked by an $8 billion hedge fund's implosion". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  37. ^ Goldstein, Matthew (2017-04-18). "Harbert Reaches $40 Million Tax Settlement With New York". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  38. ^ "A.G. Schneiderman Announces $40 Million Settlement With Investment Management Company For Tax Abuses, Marking Largest Tax Whistleblower Recovery In Office's History | New York State Attorney General". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  39. ^ "Not an inside job: How two analysts became SEC whistleblowers". Reuters. 2017-04-25. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  40. ^ " | Medical Device Company Charged With Accounting Failures and FCPA Violations". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  41. ^ "Phase 4 Report". See passim and pages 17-22, 177. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  42. ^ "Wall Street's New Enforcers Aim to Muzzle Whistle-Blowers". DealBook. Jordan Thomas and Tom Devine. 21 July 2014. Retrieved 2017-11-01.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  43. ^ Higham, Scott (2014-07-18). "New restrictive nondisclosure agreements are silencing whistleblowers, activists charge". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  44. ^ "2016 Annual Report to Congress on the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program. Pages 19-23" (PDF).
  45. ^ "What anti-corruption policies, legislations and practices can enhance the investment climate in Egypt - Report SEC Fraud". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  46. ^ "'A Year of Corporate Wrongdoing: Presenting Potential Solutions from Across the Atlantic' | Henry Jackson Society". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  47. ^ a b Danckert, Sarah (2017-02-14). "Whistleblower laws could deliver multi-billion budget boost: US lawyer". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  48. ^ a b "'It would clean up white collar crime in this country' | The New Daily". The New Daily. 2017-05-01. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  49. ^ Wells, Jennifer (2016-07-11). "Enough to whet the whistleblowers?: Wells". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  50. ^ "Canadians contacting SEC with whistleblower tips". The Globe and Mail. 2015-06-09. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  51. ^ Posadzki, Alexandra (2015-06-09). "OSC proposal to pay whistleblowers up to $1.5 million inadequate: lawyer". CTVNews. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  52. ^ "Proposal to pay corporate whistleblowers up to $1.5M 'inadequatee&#". AdvocateDaily. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  53. ^ Commission, Ontario Securities. "Office of the Whistleblower". Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  54. ^ Australia;c=AU, ou=Treasury;o=Commonwealth of (2017-06-23). "Address to the University of Melbourne Whistleblowing seminar, Melbourne". Retrieved 2017-11-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  55. ^ Sun, Mengqi (2020-06-23). "Supreme Court's Ruling on SEC Disgorgement Could Shrink Whistleblower Awards". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  56. ^ Michaels, Dave (2020-05-04). "WSJ News Exclusive | SEC Ramps Up Whistleblower Awards". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  57. ^ "SEC Awards $27M Bounty To 'Tenacious' Whistleblower - Law360". Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  58. ^ "Jordan A. Thomas - Practising Law Institute". Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  59. ^ "Mei Lin Kwan-Gett to Chair City Bar Fund; New Board Members Announced | City Bar Justice Center". City Bar Justice Center. Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  60. ^ "'Enforcement 40' for 2020". Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  61. ^ "500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyers". Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  62. ^ "Distinguished Leader: Jordan Thomas". Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  63. ^ "Trust! Multi-year awards" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  64. ^ "Jordan A. Thomas Named Whistleblower "Lawyer of the Year"". Labaton Sucharow. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  65. ^ "NLJ publication, Trailblazers Plaintiffs' Lawyers". Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  66. ^ "Securities Group Of The Year: Labaton Sucharow" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  67. ^ "Labaton Sucharow Named a Top Plaintiffs Firm by Benchmark Litigation". Labaton Sucharow. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  68. ^ "SEC Whistleblower Advocate One of America's Most Innovative Law Firms". Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  69. ^ "Attorneys Who Matter". Ethisphere Institute.
  70. ^ a b "Practising Law Institute. "Faculty Profile: Jordan A. Thomas"". Retrieved 2013-11-07.