One of the most important breakthrough in whistleblower law has been the ability of whistleblowers to report frauds confidentially and obtain whistleblower rewards. Simply stated, if a company does not know who the whistleblower is, they cannot retaliate against someone they do not know exists.

The major laws protecting confidentiality are:

  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
    Permits whistleblowers to anonymously and confidentially file a reward claim.
  • Securities and Exchange Act (Dodd-Frank Act whistleblower provision)
    Permits whistleblowers to anonymously and confidentially file a reward claim.
  • Commodity Exchange Act (Dodd-Frank Act whistleblower provision)
    Permits whistleblowers to anonymously and confidentially file a reward claim.
  • IRS Whistleblower Law for Tax Evasion, Tax Underpayments, Illegal Offshore Banking and Money Laundering
    Although the law does not permit anonymous filings, the IRS regulations require that the IRS provide whistleblowers with the maximum amount of confidentiality permitted under law when they file a reward claim. In practice this provision provides extremely effective confidentiality protections.
  • Inspector General Act/Whistleblower Protection Act
    These two laws governing the rights of federal employees permit federal workers to file confidential whistleblower disclosures regarding wrongdoing.
  • False Claims Act/qui tam
    The False Claims Act requires that the original lawsuit filed by a whistleblower alleging violations of the False Claims Act be filed under “seal.” This means that the original complaint is not a pubic document and is not served on the defendant. The complaint is provided to the United States government in order to permit the government to conduct an investigation. Once the investigation is completed the complaint often comes out of seal, and is placed on the public record. The False Claims Act’s reward law does not provide the same level of confidentiality as do other whistleblower reward laws, but the ability to keep the complaint confidential during the government’s investigation (which can take years) is extremely helpful in preventing retaliation.
  • Nondisclosure Agreements
    Many companies require employees to sign nondisclosure agreements that require employees to notify their bosses if they communicate with the government. These agreements interfere with an employee’s right to confidentiality. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, along with other federal agencies, have determined that these types of agreements are illegal and in violation of the SEC whistleblower reward law, the CFTC whistleblower reward law and the FCPA whistleblower reward law. These types of agreements also violate the federal Obstruction of Justice laws. However, prior to violating a nondisclosure agreement a whistleblower should contact a whistleblower attorney with expertise on nondisclosure agreements in order to ensure that your confidential disclosures to federal law enforcement are protected.

Frequently Asked Questions

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