On March 10, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued two whistleblower awards totaling approximately $500,000. The awarded whistleblowers separately provided the CFTC with information that contributed to a successful enforcement action.
According to the CFTC, the whistleblowers’ information and assistance “helped the Division of Enforcement expand the scope of an existing investigation and lead the Division to other key evidence supporting the enforcement action.” While the CFTC did not file charges based on the specific violations identified by the whistleblowers, the CFTC determined that the whistleblowers’ information did significantly contribute to the success of the enforcement action.
“These awards show how a whistleblower’s information can advance the Commission’s enforcement efforts, even if the CFTC does not ultimately charge the specific violations the whistleblower has reported,” said Whistleblower Office Director Christopher Ehrman. “As long as the information significantly contributes to a successful investigation, the whistleblower may be eligible for an award.”
Through the CFTC Whistleblower Program, qualified whistleblowers, individuals who voluntarily provide original information which leads to a successful enforcement action, are entitled to a monetary award of 10-30% of funds recovered by the government. The agency weighs a number of factors in determining the exact percentage of an award.
According to the CFTC’s award order, in this case three factors were particularly relevant. The CFTC positively assessed the facts that the whistleblowers’ information was significant, the whistleblowers provided substantial additional assistance to the investigation, and the violations reported by the whistleblowers was a priority for the agency.
“These awards further show the importance of whistleblower tips to our entire enforcement program, including high-priority areas,” said CFTC Acting Director of Enforcement Vincent McGonagle. “Information from whistleblowers has helped the Commission not only start investigations, but also bring them to a successful conclusion.”
Since issuing its first award in 2014, the CFTC has granted whistleblower awards amounting to approximately $300 million. Individuals considering blowing the whistle to the CFTC should first consult an experienced whistleblower attorney to ensure they qualify for the largest possible award.