Five Years Out of Work

Five years after being the first to file for whistle-blower protection under Sarbanes-Oxley, former CFO David Welch has lost the family farm and his savings, and still doesn't have a job.

Can you see yourself ever going back to Cardinal?

Up until getting the position at Franklin, I absolutely could have gone back. I am a Christian and I prayed. God opened a door to go through and closed others. If he wanted to open the door to go to Cardinal, I would have had an obligation to go there. Now the door is open at Franklin.

Let’s say they reinstated you back in October. What kind of reception would you have had?

It would have been a very hostile environment. For five years, employees have heard just one side of the story. They didn’t attend the trial or see the evidence, documentation, or proof of my position. They just heard what they were told. I imagine a lot of people believed I am a bad guy. I could imagine it would not be a comfortable situation.

What do you think of the Department of Labor?

I am confused as to why anything takes as long as this has. I don’t think OSHA is the best place for these kinds of cases to be heard. If you go to OSHA’s Website, there are something like 13 to 14 laws they are responsible for — clean water act, pollution, atomic energy act. And then Sarbanes-Oxley. They don’t have the expertise.

So, what’s next?

The bank has stated it will go to the Supreme Court with it. I can’t imagine how long that would take.

How did your co-workers react to your whistle-blower filing?

I don’t know. I did not discuss issues of fraud or my insider-trading concerns with my subordinates. I felt they were confidential.

Did they talk to you when you left?

Three or four did. They were told at a staff meeting after I was terminated they were forbidden to speak with me or provide information. Fortunately, there were people with integrity there and they maintained communications anyway.

What would you say to another CFO who was wondering whether to invoke whistle-blower protection under Sarbox?

I recommend others to do what is right. Go back to their religious beliefs — knowing what is right and not doing that is a sin. After seeing people fix financial statements, if I didn’t take a stand, that would be a sin. It will all work out eventually. If you compromise your integrity, what do you have left? Your reputation is all you have in life.

You sound at peace with yourself and your decision.

I have seen God take care of things I don’t have another explanation for. How do you survive for years without an income?

Would you do it again?

Yes. It is the right thing to do.


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