Who watches the Watchmen? Former senior FDIC employee found guilty of stealing confidential bank documents

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The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is one of the nation’s top banking regulators, but one of the agency’s former senior employees faces 20 years in jail for stealing confidential documents from the world’s largest banks while trying to get a job at those very same banks.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Allison Aytes was found guilty earlier this week on both counts of an indictment charging her with theft of government property in the possession of the FDIC.

Court documents show that Aytes was a senior employee in the FDIC’s Office of Complex Financial Institutions in New York until she resigned from that position in September 2015.

The FDIC’s Office of Complex Financial Institutions was created after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and charged with overseeing the orderly bankruptcy of the world’s largest financial institutions, should one of those companies fail.

As part of Dodd-Frank, each of those banks is required to file a resolution plan for the bank should it fail. Those plans are called “living wills,” which include a series of documents with confidential information about the bank, including its assets, business operations, data center locations, critical vendors, agreements with other banks and potential weaknesses or other deficiencies that pose risk during a time of financial crisis.

Aytes worked in the office that oversaw those plans and used her position to gain access to those sensitive documents, all while attempting to get a job at one of those banks.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in August 2015, Aytes used the computer in her office to review job listings and apply for jobs with banks that filed living wills with the FDIC.

Then, on Aug. 27, 2015, just one day after being contacted about a possible position with one of those banks, Aytes accessed a secure FDIC database and printed living will information for the bank in question.

Aytes then resigned her position with the FDIC on Sept. 16, 2015. A later review of her activity conducted by the FDIC showed that on her last day of work, Aytes copied a number of files from the FDIC network onto external USB drives, including living wills for several banks where Aytes had been seeking employment.

“Aytes embezzled sensitive and confidential information about banks that was the property of the United States government shortly before she resigned from the FDIC to seek job opportunities at those very same banks,” United States Attorney Richard Donoghue said.  “With today’s verdict, Aytes has been held accountable for abusing her position of trust for personal gain.” 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Aytes faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

“This case makes clear that those who compromise sensitive FDIC information will be held accountable for their actions,” FDIC Inspector General Jay Lerner said. “We are committed to investigating such breaches of public trust, and to protecting the integrity of confidential data maintained by the agency.”

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