Harold Franklin Chorney - A Financial Expert's Legal Battle And The Quest For Financial Privacy

Harold Franklin Chorney - A Financial Expert's Legal Battle And The Quest For Financial Privacy

by John Gilbert

Last updated

"The right to be left alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." - William O. Douglas

Introduction:

Harold Franklin Chorney, a prominent financial expert with a passion for tangible assets, coins, and precious metals, made a lasting impact on the financial industry and financial education. However, his journey was marred by a long and challenging legal battle that tested his commitment to preserving client privacy and financial confidentiality. This article focuses on the legal battle that spanned over two decades, revealing the complexities of the bankruptcy process and raising questions about government transparency and the fundamental right to financial privacy.

Early Life And Financial Expertise:

Born on December 27, 1938, in Providence, Rhode Island, Harold Franklin Chorney's affinity for finance and tangible assets emerged at an early age. His journey into finance began after graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Russian Studies from Brown University in 1961. Chorney's military service provided him with worldly experiences that laid the foundation for his remarkable career in finance and investment.

The Rise Of A Financial Expert:

Harold Chorney's keen eye for financial opportunities led him to explore the world of tangible assets, coins, and precious metals. With an in-depth understanding of numismatics and precious metals, he became a trusted advisor to clients seeking to diversify their investment portfolios. His expertise earned him recognition through appearances on national radio stations and articles in renowned financial publications like Barron's Financial, cementing his status as a respected industry expert.

Chorney's Commitment To Financial Privacy:

As Chorney's reputation as a financial expert grew, so did his commitment to preserving financial privacy. He believed in the importance of safeguarding clients' financial information from unwarranted intrusion. Subsequently he became a vocal critic of the banking system and other financial institutions cooperating with federal agencies in circumventing safeguards that once existed. In all fairness to the banks, laws were passed to facilitate the intrusion into the privacy of the citizenry in an evolving financial landscape with increasing regulatory changes. Chorney's insights served as a reminder of the significance of maintaining financial confidentiality. Chorney held the belief back then, as he still does today, that the erosion of financial privacy results in a diminishment of the other fundamental rights safeguarded by the Bill of Rights. These rights were crafted to shield citizens from government intrusion.

The Legal Battle Unfolds:

Despite his dedication to protecting client privacy, Harold Chorney found himself embroiled in a legal battle when he faced legal demands to reveal personal and private information about his clients. This battle was related to charges of making false statements or reports to a federally insured bank, 18 U.S.C. § 1014.

The charges against Chorney centered around the appraisal of silver dollars that he had pledged as collateral for loans from Eastland Bank in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. The bank required pledged assets worth double the amount of the loans. Chorney allegedly engineered a false appraisal of the silver dollars, leading the bank to provide additional extensions and renewals of the loans. Chorney held the conviction that he was singled out due to his outspoken stance on financial privacy, and he considered the accusation of orchestrating a fabricated appraisal to be a significant exaggeration. He pointed out that the individual responsible for conducting the appraisal, referred to as an unindicted co-conspirator, attested in testimony that he had not colluded with anyone to create the said appraisal.

The legal proceedings began in 1989 and lasted over 22 years, involving complex arguments and examinations of Chorney's financial transactions and assets. In their zealous pursuit of information, the government had amassed a staggering 80,000 pages of Chorney's clients' details, primarily consisting of banking records, as revealed in the discovery process. Chorney was led to believe that if he had disclosed the personal and private information of his clients, the entire situation might have been resolved. However, he steadfastly declined to comply with this request. In contrast to Judith Miller, the author and journalist known for her work "Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War," who was eventually freed after enduring 85 days of imprisonment for refusing to disclose her sources in the Plame Affair.

The Chorney case brought to light the intricacies of the bankruptcy process and raised significant questions about government transparency and the right to financial privacy, protected by the Ninth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Preserving Client Confidentiality At All Costs:

Throughout the lengthy legal battle, Harold Chorney stood firm in his commitment to preserving client confidentiality. He challenged legal demands that sought to breach the privacy of his clients, highlighting the importance of safeguarding their financial information. Chorney's steadfast resistance to revealing personal details about his clients underscored the ethical principles that guided his financial career.

Legacy And Impact:

Despite the challenges he faced in the legal arena, Harold Franklin Chorney's legacy in the financial planning industry remains significant. His dedication to financial education and client privacy continues to inspire future generations of financial professionals and educators. Chorney's legal battle emphasized the need for individuals and institutions to uphold financial privacy as a fundamental right, even in the face of regulatory changes and evolving financial landscapes. At the very least, Chorney holds the belief that financial experts and institutions should provide their clients and customers with a cautionary notice, indicating that their personal and private information might be shared with third parties.

Postscript:

The narrative surrounding individuals willing to surveil their own citizens has undergone a transformation. In the 1980s, those supporting financial privacy were often branded as lenient towards crime, accused of involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering. Following the aftermath of 9/11 and the introduction of the Patriot Act, advocates for financial privacy were now stigmatized as being soft on terrorism. This shift appears to be a calculated strategy by those aiming to collect personal and private information. By the time the truth comes to light, most advocates find themselves financially ruined, consumed by defending against the very system they sought to challenge.

In 2011, a revelation emerged, 18 years after Chorney's conviction in 1993. The Trustee in Bankruptcy released a conclusive report, revealing that the bank, which had been taken over by the F.D.I.C., had abandoned assets exceeding $35,000,000. This revelation strongly indicated that the charges brought against Chorney were, indeed, fabricated.

Conclusion:

Harold Franklin Chorney's journey as a financial expert was marked by both triumphs and tribulations. His passion for tangible assets and financial education left an indelible mark on the industry. However, it was his unwavering commitment to preserving client privacy and financial confidentiality that defined him as an advocate for individual rights in a rapidly changing financial world. The legal battle he endured shed light on the complexities of the bankruptcy process and challenged the notion of government transparency, leaving a lasting impact on the quest for financial privacy.

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