Meet FINRA's New Financial Crime Detector - The Industry Spread

Michael Volpe

After spending a decade in finance, Michael Volpe has been a freelance investigative journalist since 2009. His work has been published locally in the Chicago Reader, Chicago Crusader, Chicago Heights Patch, and New City. Nationally, Volpe's work has appeared in a wide variety of publications including the Washington Examiner, the Daily Caller, Crime Magazine, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Newsletter, and Counter Punch. Volpe has been recognized by whistleblowers as leading the charge in getting their stories out. His first book Prosecutors Gone Wild was published in October 2012, his second book The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers was published in February 2013 and his third book Bullied to Death was published in August 2015.

Meet FINRA’s New Financial Crime Detector

May 30, 2020

FINRA’s man in charge of investigating financial crimes has a varied background, including hostage negotiation.

Greg Ruppert is FINRA’s new Executive Vice President of the National Cause and Financial Crimes Detection Programs and he was the latest guest in FINRA’s podcast, Unscripted.

Ruppert is such a relatively new hire that he was the first person hired to work during FINRA’s new remote work program due to coronavirus.

Prior to FINRA, Ruppert spent nearly two decades at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with six years at Charles Schwab.

As he explained on the podcast, part of his role at the FBI was as a hostage negotiator.

“I’d say I’ve had the fortunate ability at being so long as a career Special agent the FBI have been involved in numerous aspects of what agency does. I was able to work not only in the financial crimes area, but also was able to work overseas for the FBI. I ran a legal attaché office based out of the embassy in Berlin, and I also set up the FBI’s sub office in the Netherlands, right out of the Hague. I was also part of the initial structure for the FBI’s relationship with Europol, also based in The Hague.

“Part of my work in and around the post 9/11 was around terrorism financing and ultimately in the counterterrorism work of the Bureau. And actually, I was the assistant special agent in charge of the Washington field office over some extraterritorial teams. And those teams actually engaged with others in the government, as well as within the FBI, to investigate as well as continue to work on a number of cases that involve terrorism and also hostage taking of U.S. citizens abroad. So I’d say given the level of experience that I had in the FBI I was exposed to a number of things that I think will definitely help bring calm under pressure and a sense of focused attention related to high stress environments and high stress investigations that are going to come out of my role here at FINRA.”

At Charles Schwab he was Head of Financial Crimes Risk Management and the Bank Secrecy Act.

Ruppert also described what his role would be at FINRA, “So, we are going to make it simple with a four-letter acronym of NCFC. So, the National Cause Financial Crimes components, adding detection in there that we’re not engaged in any financial crimes, we’re actually detecting, deterring them and investigating them. So it was very specific that we picked that name, and a lot of what is done here is work that FINRA has been doing for decades, and it’s really great work, really great investigations and a really great skillset that comes with the FINRA expertise in this area. But what it’s doing is it’s consolidating those efforts into an organized function that will allow us to better collaborate, as well as to use the synergies of this larger group to make sure that we’re operating, not only effectively, but also efficiently in terms of the mission that we’ve been charged to carry out.

He continued, “A lot of it is focused around the investigation related to fraud that’s potentially occurring and that we may be seeing within the markets, as well as those being facilitated at, by or through our member firms. So, we have surveillance teams that look at fraud or certain types of structuring of issuers. And then we have groups to look at insider trading, groups that look at the any money laundering requirements related under the Bank Secrecy Act, as well as the Patriot Act. We have specialty teams that look at cybersecurity and cybercrime. We have a team that specifically focuses on our vulnerable adults and senior population. And then we have under the National Cause Group a consolidated effort that would basically be doing investigations that are specifically targeted based on any tips, complaints or otherwise indications that something is going on within member firms or within registered representatives that we provide oversight. And we have teams that will actually receive tips and complaints from investors or others in the industry, or even outside of the industry through our Office of the Whistleblower program.

FINRA is a self-regulatory organization which was formed in 2007 when the regulatory arms of the NYSE and NASD merged.

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