On April 4, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) awarded a whistleblower with more than $10 million. This is just the third whistleblower award the CFTC has approved since its whistleblower program was enacted in 2011, and it is by far the largest amount awarded to date. Before this, the biggest award that had been issued was $290,000 in September 2015.
This is also the first award that has been issued since a December 2015 CFTC Inspector General review on the limited number of CFTC awards issued in comparison to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whistleblower program. Thus, this could be a sign that more CFTC whistleblower awards are on the horizon.
The CFTC’s whistleblower program, like that of the SEC, was created under Section 748 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Under the program, the CFTC is required to pay out awards — with certain conditions and limitations — to any whistleblowers who provide original information that leads to successful enforcement actions worth more than $1 million.
All information must be voluntarily provided to the CFTC, and so there cannot have been a request or demand for the information. Whistleblowers do not have to report possible violations internally to qualify for the CFTC awards, but they may receive credit for first reporting internally and then reporting to the agency within the next 120 days. Information whistleblowers provide must come from their own independent knowledge or analysis — it cannot come from publicly available sources.
The CFTC whistleblower program receives far fewer tips than the SEC. In 2015, it received only 232 tips and complaints, compared to nearly 4,000 to the SEC. However, this case could indicate a future willingness on the part of the agency to offer more (and larger) awards, which means whistleblowers should consider filing with the CFTC an option.
For more information about CFTC awards and how your organization should respond to whistleblower claims, speak with a skilled Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.