Program sets a new national standard for effective whistleblower programs
Washington, D.C. November 19, 2014. On Monday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Office of the Whistleblower released its FY 2014 Annual Report. The report, required by Congress, documented significant improvements in the SEC’s whistleblower program, leading the National Whistleblower Center to point to the SEC program as a model for other federal agencies to follow.
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, stated:
“The SEC program is fast becoming a model for other federal agencies to follow. The Office of the Whistleblower has not only developed an administrative program for processing ‘tips’ and rewards, it has engaged on key issues effecting whistleblowers. The Office is filling the void on the lack of international whistleblower protections, ensuring that foreign nationals who blow the whistle on violations of U.S. securities laws that occur outside the United States are fully covered under the awards law. Additionally, it has taken groundbreaking steps to combat retaliation in the workplace, including sanctioning companies that retaliate and filing ‘friend of the court’ briefs to ensure that the courts properly interpret whistleblower protection laws.”
“This multi-faceted approach to whistleblower protection is a model for other federal agencies to follow,” Kohn added.
“Despite these advances, we remain troubled by the slow-pace of granting monetary rewards. Publicly granting large rewards is the single best tool for ensuring compliance with securities laws. Paying monetary rewards is the best way to ensure that the top management of publicly traded companies understand that there is a new ‘cop on the block.’ Those new cops are their own employees, who can now work side-by-side with SEC investigators in documenting violations of law. Granting large public rewards is the single best tool the SEC has to send this message,” Kohn said.
The Whistleblower Office Report documents the progress the SEC during the past year in creating an effective whistleblower-protection infrastructure within the Commission’s Office of Enforcement. The report highlights key milestones in the SEC’s progress since the Madoff fiasco. This includes:
- Sanctioning a corporation for retaliating against an employee-whistleblower;
- Filing a “friend of the court” brief trying to ensure that workers to provide information to their own compliance departments are fully protected;
- Honoring the confidentiality requirements in the law;
- Establishing a program capable of accepting whistleblower tips and applications from every state and from over eighty nations around the world;
- Making progress in the payment of rewards.