Miami Banker Can Pursue Case Against DOJ
By Stephanie Woodrow | April 7, 2010 3:32 pm

A Miami banker who was fired from his job after his employer entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department will be allowed to pursue a constitutional claim against the DOJ, The Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

Sergio Masvidal, the former chairman of American Express Bank International, alleged that DOJ and his former employer were partners in a secret plot to ruin his career.

Masvidal joined American Express in 1994 as a private banker. In 2007, the bank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department for violating anti-money laundering reporting laws. As part of the agreement, the bank was required to pay $65 million to the government.

Masvidal alleged that the DOJ also required the bank’s outside counsel to sign a separate letter, which implied wrongdoing on the part of Masvidal and the company’s president and promised the two would be fired after the bank was sold. Masvidal said the letter was not disclosed to him or the judge who approved the deferred prosecution agreement.

The Justice Department later informed Masvidal’s lawyers that it had voided the letter. His lawyers asked for an formal statement, because the stigma of the letter was preventing Masvidal from finding other employment. However, the Justice Department declined to issue a statement unless Masvidal agreed to release it from liability.

In September, Masvidal filed a lawsuit against the bank and the DOJ seeking $7.5 million in damages. U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas dismissed the suit against the bank last week. However, the judge allowed Masvidal to pursue a suit against DOJ for violating his Fifth Amendment right to due process.

Masvidal claimed he had “no chance to respond at all before he lost his job, reputation and prospects in the banking industry as a direct consequence of the letter agreement,” his lawyers said.

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