BB&T Corp. should rehire a former company investigator who says she was fired after exposing a $100 million North Carolina development scam, an administrative law judge said in a ruling released Friday.
Judge Jeffrey Tureck said in his decision that Amy Stroupe should be reinstated to her position with back pay. Stroupe said that she hopes to return to the job.
"I feel so happy and vindicated," she said. "This has been an almost 3-year ordeal. It's been tough. I feel so happy that the judge was able to see the truth in all this."
BB&T didn't immediately comment on the matter.
Stroupe says she contacted the FBI in 2007 about the development scam because the Winston-Salem-based bank refused to take action on it. Investigators now say the Village of Penland development was a Ponzi scheme, and Tureck said in his ruling that the bank was "aiding" the fraud by making loans to investors in the community.
The project began to unravel when a BB&T official in the Shelby office became suspicious that an employee who recently transferred to the branch was making too many Penland loans. He asked Stroupe to look into it.
But after Stroupe discovered the scheme, she said company officials didn't want to hear about it. Several banks helped finance the project; BB&T lent more than $20 million to investors.
"They want to ignore the bad and just look at the good," Stroupe said. "I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. I was jumping up and down and screaming, trying to get somebody's attention, and I felt like I was being ignored."
Stroupe filed a whistleblower lawsuit after getting fired.
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