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CFTC Awards Another Whistleblower

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  • Posted on: Aug 31 2016

How many awards has the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) made under its whistleblower program?

The CFTC awarded a whistleblower $50,000, the second such award this year. The $50,000 award comes on the heels of a $10 million award earlier in 2016, the largest award under its program to date.

Authority Under the Dodd-Frank Act

The whistleblower award program created under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) in 2010 authorized the commodities watchdog, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), to reward whistleblowers who report violations of the commodities and securities laws.

The CFTC program rewards individuals for voluntarily providing original information about Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) violations, provided that the information leads to an enforcement action that results in monetary sanctions greater than $1 million. The whistleblower gets an award of between 10 and 30 percent of the amount collected by the CFTC. Under the law, the CFTC cannot identify the whistleblower, or the enforcement action on which the award is based. The $50,000 award is based on monetary sanctions collected by the CFTC thus far, and the whistleblower will receive between 10 and 30 percent of any additional sanction collected.

CFTC Whistleblower Awards in 2016

Since the program was rolled out, the CFTC has made four awards for a total of $10.6 million, which is far less than awarded under the SEC’s whistleblower program in which 32 awards of more than $85 million have been made – the largest being $30 million. While the CFTC was slow in rolling out its program – the first award was in 2014 – the program is said to be picking up steam.

Protection Against Retaliation

The Dodd-Frank Act also protects whistleblowers under the CFTC program, whether or not the individual is eligible for an award. Employers are prohibited from terminating, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing (directly or indirectly), or in any manner discriminating against a whistleblower for any lawful act taken by the whistleblower under the CFTC program. These protections apply to any whistleblower who reasonably believes the information provided is related to possible violations of the CEA. Whistleblowers can also file a lawsuit in federal court in the event that they are discharged or discriminated against by an employer.

The Takeaway

The $10 million award earlier this year and the latest $50,000 award are an indication that the CFTC is becoming more aggressive in its enforcement activities. If you have knowledge of a violation of the CEA, an experienced attorney can help you report your concerns and obtain compensation.

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