Trevor Kitchen was born in the United Kingdom (UK), but currently, at 70 years of age, resides on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Madeira Island is located in the Atlantic Ocean, about 350 miles from Morocco. There are natural pools formed from lava, beautiful cliffs overlooking the ocean and charming towns. Madeira Island experiences an average temperature of 66 degrees Fahrenheit, and it has been named the best island destination in the world since 2015.
There is trouble in paradise, however, because Trevor Kitchen is a whistleblower, and we all know that the life journey of a whistleblower is oftentimes a tale of deceit, betrayal and retaliation by those who have been exposed for corruption.
Kitchen was involved in finance for over 45 years, mainly with U.S. corporations. When he blew the whistle, he was working as an “independent consultant” involved in “company restructuring, spin-offs, tax analysis, always in financial controlling and reporting.”
In early 2011, Kitchen was working in Switzerland and was shocked to discover that his 700,000 Swiss franc pension had lost all of its value. Kitchen began to investigate why the loss of his pension occurred, and developed a very detailed analysis and database of information concerning the loss. What Kitchen discovered was a massive manipulation of the U.S. dollar (Dollar) and the British sterling pound (Sterling). In August of 2011, Kitchen began his whistleblower journey, notifying several financial oversight agencies in the U.S., U.K., Switzerland, and the European Union of the manipulation of their currency.
Kitchen believed that a major currency trader and several banks in multiple countries “colluded to destroy the Sterling and the Dollar using the Swiss franc as the counterpart currency. To achieve that goal, they had to utilize high frequency trading, various software programming and black box trading techniques that simulate large trades that do not actually exist in the real physical world.” Kitchen demanded an investigation into “these two major foreign currency exchange rate currencies [that] have never in history been influenced to move so drastically and so swiftly, namely the Sterling and the Dollar.” He explained that “only large banks with the assistance of an FX trader using mathematical formulas and algorithms with the help of leveraging can accomplish this.”
Kitchen noted that governments needed to investigate how companies and banks “can destroy a major reserve currency such as the Dollar, along with the Sterling, resulting in chaos in the world financial markets.” Kitchen had specialized in finance all of his life, and understood policies and procedures in companies, and was the right person, in the right place, at the right time to reveal the massive fraud that was taking place in the currency markets.
For individuals who are not familiar with currency trading, algorithms, or black box trading, the bottom line is that trading companies and banks rigged the financial system, and ripped off billions of dollars from the public.
Because of the lack of concrete action by the financial oversight agencies that Kitchen notified in 2011, he again reached out in July of 2012, complaining about the lack of response to his disclosures. He noted: “no wonder the world is in a financial crisis. No one helps the public and the authorities wonder why the public are losing confidence in the leaders and the financial system. It’s simple: because the people meant to be in charge are doing absolutely nothing for the consumers/public.” Kitchen went on to say, “By auditing the destructive movements of the Swiss franc between 2008-2011 against two of the worlds’ major currencies, namely the Dollar and Sterling, I believe this will eventually lead to one of the main reasons the world is in a financial crisis and point to the culprits behind the manipulation. There needs to be an investigation as to why the Dollar and Sterling can lose 118% and 153% respectively against the Swiss franc. Basic accounting and an audit trail will easily prove that the opposite side of these massive losses for the Dollar and Sterling resulted in massive benefits for the Swiss franc.”
Kitchen pointed out that in August 2011, manipulation of the two major currencies (the Dollar and the Sterling) resulted in losses of 12% on each currency in one day, meaning trillions of dollars. Kitchen had never seen major currencies move by that amount, and knew that there had been manipulation by major players, traders, and banks using illegal robotic trading. Kitchen not only notified the financial oversight authorities, but he also named trading companies and banks that were possibly involved in the manipulation of currency.
Kitchen noted to regulators that there were educational institutions that were studying how to “perform cutting-edge computational and evolutionary methods to stimulate markets with artificially intelligent agents and to design real-time trading and risk management systems.” Kitchen saw the future, where “there are breakthroughs in IT and Artificial intelligence based on modeling of markets with operationally relevant features.” As time passed and feeling like nothing was being done, Kitchen wondered if the traders were controlling the regulators, and pointed out a specific situation of a trader heading a regulatory agency, which Kitchen referred to as “a gross conflict of interest.”
Kitchen decided to approach the media, and in June of 2013, Bloomberg News reported on currency dealers that had been front-running client orders and rigging the foreign exchange benchmark rates by colluding with counterparts and pushing trades through before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmark rates are set. It was known as the “Forex Scandal” and involved banks that colluded for at least a decade to manipulate exchange rates for their own financial gain. The monetary losses caused by the manipulation of the forex market have been estimated to represent $11.5 billion per year for Britains’ 20.7 million pension holders, one being Trevor Kitchen. Several other television and press articles followed with Kitchen as a source, and the result was $6 billion of fines levied and collected against banks in various countries.
Kitchen’s strategy was straightforward, and as it happened, effective. He felt that media reports would force regulators to act against the perpetrators of market manipulation and simultaneously put pressure on the banks. A tremendous amount of press coverage forced the banks to conduct their own internal investigations and eventually self-reported to regulators who then investigated the banks which led to successful enforcement actions and the recovery of billions in fines. While blowing the whistle to the media was effective in this case, whistleblower advocates do warn against going to the media without working with experienced whistleblower attorneys.
Kitchen filed his whistleblower information with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2014, and is patiently awaiting the outcome. Kitchen knows that whistleblowing is very “time consuming, and also a psychological burden.” He “seriously” considered avoiding doing it, because he had a fear the banks and traders could retaliate legally to ultimately “wear [him] down financially and physically.” But Kitchen used the media anonymously and the subsequent investigation was opened by the correct authorities. Kitchen planned to stay under the radar awaiting a possible financial reward, but like the old adage, “Man Plans, and God Laughs,” Kitchen found himself off-ramped into a different reality.
In 2011, while Kitchen was living in Switzerland, a Jehovah’s Witness knocked on his door, and was invited in. During the subsequent conversation, the Witness introduced himself as a banker. A relationship was established over the next four years during which time, Kitchen provided investment advice, which resulted in a substantial financial windfall for the banker. Kitchen expected a commission for his advice, but the banker refused. Kitchen accused the banker of reneging on the payment and leveled criticism at him to the man’s bosses and a Swiss legal body. The words used by Kitchen to describe the banker were “parasite” and “plagiarist.” In the United States, and the United Kingdom, words do not lead to criminal charges, but Switzerland and Portugal are two of a handful of nations to treat words as a criminal matter. A Swiss prosecutor issued the criminal warrant for Kitchen, a European warrant was issued for Kitchen’s arrest, and the warrant was used as cause for extradition.
In Switzerland, nine out of ten sentences are handed down by a state prosecutor as “summary penalty orders. This raises constitutional questions as the prosecutor is also the judge. The state prosecutors deal with cases directly, and largely in writing. There is no in-depth examination of the issues, and there are no court proceedings. People are being sent to prison for months after a minimal investigation, without any hearing, legal counsel or judge. State prosecutors usually do not speak to the accused before sending out a penalty order. Most judgements are based on the documents provided to the prosecutor.
Kitchen stated that the Swiss federal government’s pursuit of him “is politically motivated and institutes the abuse of process. It is connected to my whistleblowing activities on the currency manipulation scandal that resulted in billions of fines for Swiss banks.” The Swiss authorities issued an international red alert, “European Arrest Warrant (EAW) across 27 European countries,” which Kitchen noted, “charged me for breaching secrecy and privacy laws, and criminal defamation.” Kitchen stated that Swiss authorities see all whistleblowers as a “serious threat to their economy, mostly its lucrative financial services market and pharmaceutical industry too.”
Kitchen wanted to be clear that whistleblowers in Switzerland are “exposed to vicious retaliation, not only by the very institutions being exposed, but more importantly, by Swiss authorities. Before being subjected to the usual aggressive and malicious treatment by Swiss prosecutors and judiciary, anyone attempting to report fraud are conveniently labelled as criminals and Swiss bashers. Swiss federal judges will generally imprison whistleblowers if they dare expose financial crime that negatively impacts the Swiss economy.”
Kitchen’s European arrest warrant accused him of “crimes against personal honor, violation of privacy and threats,” and on January 19, 2021, Portugal police, under an international arrest warrant, arrested him and placed him in a maximum security prison. Kitchen spent 48 hours in a filthy cell, not allowed to take his medicine, make a phone call, or see his wife. On January 21, Kitchen went to his first court hearing and was released to await further court action. He was informed he had to remain in his house and notify the court if he intended to travel anywhere for more than five days.
A hearing in Lisbon occurred on March 26, with a follow-up in early April. On April 5, three Lisbon judges threw out the Swiss case, and rejected the extradition. The prosecutor appealed and Kitchen faces a Supreme Court hearing on June 9. If he loses the appeal, Kitchen would be extradited to Switzerland to serve 3 years for defaming a banker. Kitchen said, “my wife and I fear for our lives if we ever go to Switzerland. I just want my life back, I want to live peacefully somewhere where I am no longer looking over my shoulder all the time.”
Rudolph Elmer, a Swiss whistleblower who worked as a banker at Julius Bar noted: “I entirely share [Kitchen’s] view about the system of Swiss Justice (particularly the criminal prosecution courts) which are basically used to protect the criminal banks and other dubious organizations as well as individuals which use Switzerland not only as a tax heaven but also as a legal heaven. It is crystal clear if Trevor is extradited to Switzerland he will not face a fair trial at all.”
Bradley Birkenfeld, an American who worked at UBS Group AG, Switzerland, became a whistleblower in 2007, and made a series of disclosures concerning UBS soliciting wealthy Americans to move their assets to Switzerland to avoid taxes. As a result of his whistleblowing, the Swiss financial industry moved away from using money obtained under bank secrecy laws that enabled tax evasion and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was able to recover $400 million in taxes. Birkenfeld considers what Switzerland is doing to Trevor Kitchen to be outrageous. “The Swiss think they are immune to justice around the world, they concoct their Mickey Mouse rules to their own selfish, unethical and illegal acts,” Birkenfeld stated. “I suggest the world take immediate notice of this travesty of whistleblower retaliation and boycott everything Swiss!”
Ms. Daniela Senn, Public Prosecutor, Public Prosecutor’s Office, Directorate of Justice, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland was contacted regarding the allegations of Trevor Kitchen that the warrant for arrest issued by her office was retaliation for Kitchen’s whistleblowing. She responded on June 7, 2021 and advised “I cannot give any answer because of pending proceedings.”
Would Kitchen do it again? He responds that he would, “because I can never accept deception and lies, especially when the government is complicit in it at the public taxpayers expense, no matter where in the world.” Kitchen stated that if he had not blown the whistle, his “new slogan would have to be, is the whistleblowing alternative to let corruption thrive?”
Trevor Kitchen will appear on the next episode of the Whistleblower of the Week podcast to further discuss his story. For more coverage of Kitchen’s whistleblowing and his current legal battles read: Finance chief who exposed currency scandal fights Swiss extradition bid for criminal defamation