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A board member’s reporting of suspected corporate financial malfeasance to the SEC is protected from litigious retaliation by Illinois’ Citizenship Participation Act, but reporting it to shareholders is not.

Ditto Holdings, Inc. is a private shareholder-owned corporation whose sole subsidiary is Ditto Trade Inc., an online retail stock trading company. In 2013, Trade CEO and Ditto Holdings board member Paul S. allegedly discovered evidence of suspicious financial activity by Ditto’s chairman and CEO, Joseph F., including possible securities law violations. Records indicated Joseph had been diverting the company’s capital to himself personally and had spent $1.5 million for the benefit of himself and his family. Paul S. wrote to Ditto’s board revealing his concerns. After receiving a hostile response from the general counsel and another director, Paul S. reported his allegations to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Shortly thereafter, Paul was notified the board had fired him as CEO of Trade for failing to obtain his brokerage license. After allegedly learning Joseph was attempting to have him removed from the board, Paul sent an e-mail to more than 200 Ditto shareholders, claiming to be the victim of retaliation for doing his duty as a board member. Paul was then informed he had been removed from the board by consent of the shareholders, and removed as executive vice president for his “destructive and reckless” actions. Continue reading ›

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