BUSINESS
02/21/2012 12:26 pm ET

Edward Willems, Whistleblower, Sues Credit Agricole Over 'Inappropriately Low' Bonuses

One banker is claiming that blowing the whistle on his colleagues' inappropriate behavior cost him millions.

Edward Williems, a former senior investment banker at Credit Agricole, is suing the bank -- France's second-largest by assets -- for millions of pounds claiming that his decision to report colleagues under whistleblowing rules caused him to miss out on bonuses and lose his job, Bloomberg reports. Willems' lawyer told a London employment tribunal that his client's bonuses in 2010 and 2011 were "inappropriately low" as a result of his whistleblowing activities.

Willems isn't the first whistleblower to come forward against a big bank. Sherry Hunt, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Citigroup, after her employer didn't take her complaints about shoddy mortgage loans seriously, according to Reuters. The U.S. joined the civil-fraud suit and Citi ultimately agreed to pay about $158 million to settle the case -- $31 million of which Hunt will take home.

Though Willems’ concerns may be more legitimate than some of his banker colleagues, his lawsuit is just the latest in a slew of complaints about bonuses. This year’s bonus season has sent the financial sector reeling, as bankers contend with smaller-than-typical paychecks. Anxiety over the state of the global economy and new regulations in addition to slow deal making and weak stock prices have led to a big bank compensation season so weak it rivals 2008 in dismalness, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A group of London investment bankers sued their former employer, Dresdner Kleinwort, last month claiming that the bank didn't pay them the guaranteed bonuses -- or bonuses used in an aim to retain workers -- that they were promised in at the end of 2008, according to The New York Times.

Another group of Wall Street workers, this time at New York-based Jefferies Group, threatened to quit their jobs if their bonuses weren't up to snuff, according to the New York Post.

Still, at some companies that are cutting pay, executives are saying that if workers don't like it, they can just leave. James Gorman, the CEO of Morgan Stanley, told Bloomberg Television last month that employees who are unhappy with their compensation can "just leave." The bank capped cash bonuses at $125,000 in 2011 and its senior executives, including Gorman, received zero cash.

Morgan Stanley wasn't the only bank making big pay cuts. Bonus day at Goldman Sachs last month was reportedly a "bloodbath" as workers learned that they wouldn’t be taking home any extra cash.

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