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SEC Adopts Amendments to Whistleblower Program Rules

The Securities and Exchange Commission has voted to adopt numerous amendments to the rules governing its whistleblower program. See https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2020-219 The whistleblower program serves as a significant tool for the Commission to encourage individuals to come forward with information regarding suspected security fraud. As set forth in the SEC’s press release, “The amendments to the … Continue Reading

SEC Announces Largest Whistleblower Award of 2020 – Over $27 Million

The Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced a whistleblower award of more than $27 million, representing the largest SEC whistleblower award of 2020.  This is the sixth largest award overall since the inception of the SEC whistleblower program in 2011. Congress established the whistleblower program to incentivize whistleblowers to report specific, timely, and credible … Continue Reading

The Role of Company Directors During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the management of organizations, including throwing managers at all levels into an “all-hands-on-deck” reactive mode.  In large measure, the immediate focus of management-level employees has been on business continuity, particularly moving the organization to a work from home workforce, workforce management including reductions in force by … Continue Reading

The SEC Weighs In on Reporting Related to COVID-19

As previously reported, the SEC is actively responding to the new wave of issues presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19).  However, as early as January 30, 2020, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton issued a statement identifying coronavirus as a potential concern. Chairman Clayton’s statement advised that he had instructed the staff to monitor and provide guidance to … Continue Reading

The SEC Reacts to COVID-19

Over the last few weeks, the SEC identified key initiatives it is implementing to address the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the nation and its financial markets. https://www.sec.gov/sec-coronavirus-covid-19-response The Commission stressed that it has remained fully operational and continues to process normal daily activities while undertaking additional initiatives to combat the impact of COVID-19.  … Continue Reading

Over $2 Billion in Sanctions Ordered by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

In its 2019 Annual Report to Congress, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) whistleblower program announced a “momentous milestone”: The SEC has ordered over $2 billion in sanctions since the inception of the whistleblower program. The Report outlined other key statistics from FY 2019.  Approximately $60 million was awarded to eight individuals … Continue Reading

Record High Awards and Supreme Court Decision Further Incent Potential Whistleblowers to Report Conduct to the SEC

On March 19, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced its highest ever Dodd-Frank Act (“DFA”) bounty awards to three whistleblowers. These SEC awards represent a new milestone in the SEC’s ongoing efforts to incentivize would-be whistleblowers to report unlawful conduct directly to the Commission. Two whistleblowers will divide a nearly $50 million award … Continue Reading

New Chairman and Board Members Appointed to the SEC Board Created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced the appointment of William D. Duhnke III as Chairman and J. Robert Brown, Kathleen M. Hamm, James G. Kaiser, and Duane M. DesParte as board members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 established the PCAOB to oversee public companies and broker-dealers.  … Continue Reading

Circuit Split Over Protection Afforded By Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Provision Widens

In Somers v. Digital Realty Trust, 15-17352 (9th Cir. March 8, 2017), a split Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals widened an existing circuit court split by ruling that Section 21F of the Dodd-Frank Act (“DFA”) protects individuals who make internal disclosures as well as those who make disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). … Continue Reading

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Surpasses $100 Million in Awards Through Whistleblower Program

On August 30, 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it surpassed the $100 million mark in monetary awards for whistleblowers. Through the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank Act”), Congress established the whistleblower program to incentivize whistleblowers … Continue Reading

SEC Announces Third-Highest Award Ever to Whistleblower

On May 17, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it would award between $5 million and $6 million, the third-highest award ever, to a whistleblower who provided information detailing securities violations committed by the whistleblower’s former employer. Under the so-called “bounty” provision of the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC is authorized to award … Continue Reading

Split Appeals Court Decision May Set Stage for Supreme Court Review of Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Provision

A federal appeals court ruling on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“DFA”) may prompt U.S. Supreme Court review as to when an employee whistleblower is entitled to the benefits of the anti-retaliation provisions of the DFA. In a two-to-one decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New … Continue Reading

SEC Action Impacts Employer Confidentiality Agreements

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently settled its first administrative proceeding and enforcement action under the Dodd-Frank Act involving an employer’s use of a form confidentiality agreement.  The SEC found the agreement, which prohibited employees from discussing aspects of internal investigations without prior law department authorization, could interfere with the employee’s ability to communicate with the Commission regarding … Continue Reading

Does Dodd-Frank Act Protect Whistleblower Who Did Not Report to SEC?

Whether a claimant qualifies as a whistleblower under the  language of the Dodd-Frank Act when he  does not complain directly to the SEC is  the question the Eighth  Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis may attempt to answer. Securities clearing and settlement firm COR Clearing LLC has appealed a Nebraska District Court’s denial of … Continue Reading

SEC OBTAINS CEASE AND DESIST ORDER, FINE REGARDING FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT VIOLATIONS BY GUN MAKER

  The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has announced that it has entered into a cease and desist order with gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) by allegedly bribing representatives of international buyers with gifts of products or money, in the hope of obtaining sales contracts for … Continue Reading

Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Provision Proving Fertile Breeding Ground for Whistleblowers

In a securities filing on May 1, 2014, it was announced that Avon Products, Inc. had reached a $135 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice. The $135 million in fines will be paid to the SEC and the DOJ by Avon to resolve violations under the Foreign … Continue Reading

SEC Argues for Broad Construction of Dodd-Frank Act Whistleblower Anti-Retaliation Provision

In the wake of recent SEC pronouncements about huge numbers of whistleblower complaints in the pipeline, one of the most hotly contested issues under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act “Dodd Frank Act”) has been the question of whether the Dodd Frank Act’s whistleblower anti-retaliation provision protects only those individuals who report … Continue Reading

SEC Whistleblower Awarded Record $14 Million

On October 1, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that an unidentified whistleblower, “who voluntarily provided original information” to the SEC “that led to the successful enforcement” action against an undisclosed company, has been awarded a record $14 million.  According to the SEC, the award “recognizes the significance of the information that the Claimant … Continue Reading
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