The mission of the SEC Office of the Whistleblower is to encourage individuals or groups of individuals with knowledge of significant financial misconduct to come forward to the SEC. Whistleblowers under this program can be individuals who are not U.S. citizens or persons with information about fraudulent activities taking place outside of the United States, so long as those activities undermine the integrity of U.S. financial markets. The SEC offers important protections and financial incentives to whistleblowers, including the option to submit information anonymously through their attorneys and safeguards against employer retaliation. In cases that result in monetary sanctions of more than $1 million, the SEC offers eligible whistleblowers awards of between 10% and 30% of the total monetary sanctions collected.
The CFTC whistleblower program offers protections and awards to individuals or groups of individuals who voluntarily provide information about fraud or market manipulation involving futures, options, swaps, forex, commodities or leveraged transactions, or similar violations of the Commodity Exchange Act. The CFTC’s whistleblower program provides monetary incentives as well as privacy, confidentiality, and anti-retaliation protections. If the CFTC (or related authorities) recover at least $1 million in penalties from the violators based on information voluntarily provided in a tip, complaint, or referral, the qualifying whistleblower who provided the information can receive an award of up to 30% of the penalties collected.
The IRS Whistleblower Office receives submissions from persons with knowledge of tax fraud and provides eligible whistleblowers with a share of government recoveries. The IRS puts great emphasis on whistleblower confidentiality and protecting whistleblowers from any reprisals for providing truthful information. To be eligible for an award, a whistleblower must provide specific and credible evidence that a taxpayer (corporate or individual) is avoiding or underpaying federal taxes, and that information must substantially contribute to the government’s recovery of at least $2 million, including interest, penalties, and related actions. Whistleblower awards under the program range from 15 to 30% of the amount the IRS recovers.
Persons with knowledge of fraud within banks or other federally-insured financial institutions can report misconduct to the Department of Justice and receive a share of the government’s recovery up to a maximum award of $1.6 million. To be eligible for an award, the whistleblower must submit a confidential declaration that includes specific facts and transactions that show a violation of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA). In addition, whistleblowers can receive financial rewards for assisting the government in identifying assets to satisfy outstanding FIRREA fines and judgments.
In 2015, Congress passed the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act (MVSWA) to reward automobile insiders who report life-threatening safety issues to the Government. The MVSWA allows persons to report anonymously if they are represented by an attorney. If the information provided by a whistleblower results in a recovery of $1 million or more in sanctions, they are eligible for an award of 10-30% of that amount.
The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) authorizes awards to whistleblowers who report the illegal dumping of pollutants into our oceans. Persons who provide information leading to fines or penalties against polluters can receive awards of up to 50% of the Government’s recovery. The APPS implements the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and applies to illegal discharges in international waters.
Whistleblower awards are available under a wide array of wildlife protection laws to persons who disclose violations that result in successful enforcement actions. Laws with whistleblower provisions include: