SEC, CFTC Directors Speak on Whistleblower Programs

The Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, Jane Norberg, and the Director of the CFTC Whistleblower Office, Christopher Ehrman, spoke recently at the Practicing Law Institute’s program on June 28, 2017, titled Corporate Whistleblowing in 2017. Their comments covered a wide range of hot topics in the field of whistleblower law and were relayed in a recent JDSupra article, so we thought them appropriate to briefly detail here for current and potential Dodd-Frank whistleblowers.

Both Norberg and Ehrman emphasized that the programs are open for business and going well. Norberg said that the United States has recovered over $1 billion as a result of enforcement actions and related actions arising from whistleblower tips. Ehrman emphasized that the CFTC Whistleblower Office is growing, seeing an increase in staffing, tips, and high quality tips. Ehrman expected 2017 to be a strong year for the CFTC Whistleblower program.

About the SEC Whistleblower program, Norberg spoke significantly on whistleblower protection. Protecting whistleblowers from retaliation and efforts to chill their reports are a top priority according to Norberg. Norberg believes that that the SEC’s interpretation of the Dodd-Frank anti-retaliation provision to protect whistleblowers who report internally is the only one consistent with the incentives to encourage internal reporting put in place by the SEC. Norberg also discussed Rule 21F-17, but did not definitely state whether the Rule also covers non-US employment agreements. Instead, she said that it would depend on the facts and circumstances of the case.

About the CFTC Whistleblower program, Ehrman spoke specifically on the changes to the CFTC whistleblower program that will go into effect on July 31, 2017. As he explained, the changes are intended to enhance whistleblower protections and revise the claims review process to mirror the SEC program. Ehrman did not provide a definitive answer to the question of whether the changes would apply retroactively. He said that they are considering it and would let everyone know when they have reached a definitive answer.

We will continue to post information here that provides insight as to any changes in the program during the Trump Administration.