11 February 2013

SEC Releases Report Evaluating Whistleblower Program

The SEC OIG recently released a report on the Dodd-Frank whistleblower program. The report, which describes in detail the internal process followed by SEC in responding to whistleblower complaints, concludes that SEC’s Office of Market Intelligence is timely reviewing all whistleblower complaints received by the Division of Enforcement, including returning all phone calls to the whistleblower hotline within 24 hours. The report concludes that SEC has implemented the final rules required by Dodd-Frank to administer the whistleblower program, and that those rules are easily comprehensible to the target audience of prospective whistleblowers — middle management personnel, controllers, finance department personnel, and others with basic securities laws, rules, and regulations knowledge. SEC’s minimum/maximum whistleblower award levels of 10-30% were determined by OIG to be consistent with other government whistleblower programs, including the FCA, and sufficient to encourage whistleblowers to come forward. Notably, the OIG concluded that adding a private right of action for whistleblowers to bring securities fraud claims on behalf of the government, such as that available to FCA relators, may have “unintended consequences,” and that it is too soon in the whistleblower program’s existence to determine whether adding a private right of action is necessary or advisable.

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