CFTC Issues a New Whistleblower Award for Exposing Fraudulent Activity

In keeping with its policy of carefully protecting tipsters’ identities, the watchdog provided scant details on the case.

Today, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced a new whistleblower award of an undisclosed sum, demonstrating the CFTC’s strong commitment to its tipsters.

The whistleblower provided original information that led the CFTC to open an investigation into ‘ongoing fraudulent activity’ and ultimately brings a successful enforcement action. In addition to the initial tip, the information he offered was ‘specific, credible, and timely’, and also provided documents that were essential to expose the wrongdoing that harmed main street investors.

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“This additional support enabled the CFTC to take action more quickly and conserve resources,” the agency said.

In keeping with its policy of carefully protecting tipsters’ identities, the watchdog provided scant details on the tip that led to today’s award. But in announcing the award, Division of Enforcement Director James McDonald reiterated the CFTC’s commitment to rewarding whistleblowers, elaborating that “the violations would have been difficult to detect without the whistleblower’s information and assistance.

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“This matter highlights the importance of the Commission’s Whistleblower Program to the agency’s enforcement efforts and its effectiveness in helping the Commission hold wrongdoers accountable,” he added.

More Than $1.6 Billion Paid to Whistleblowers

This news comes on the heels of numerous whistleblower awards issued by the US regulator in recent months. Earlier in June, a tipster got a cool $50 million from the Securities and Exchange Commission for blowing the whistle on a misconduct that resulted in ‘a successful enforcement action’ and returned ‘a significant amount of money’ to harmed investors.

The current total of whistleblower awards granted by the CFTC is over $120 million since it issued the first award in 2014. In turn, SEC enforcement actions from whistleblower tip-offs have resulted in nearly $1.5 billion in financial penalties from wrongdoers since the program’s inception.

Whistleblowing has become a staple of multiple US regulatory regimes. The recent rewards come as the regulator tries to recover from a dip in whistleblower performance throughout the previous year. In 2019, the number of whistleblower tips fielded to the country’s top markets regulator dropped for the first time since the program’s inception in 2011. The drop was partially attributed to SEC’s thinking about introducing caps on awards and giving the SEC staff more discretion to reduce certain payouts.

When the Congress passed the legislation a decade ago, it was faced with considerable opposition from big firms as they argued that it would hurt their compliance programs and create financial incentives for their staff to identify misconducts instead of reporting the issues to their management. Nonetheless, the whistleblower-reward scheme has proved to be an unmitigated success in enabling the nation’s regulators to discover fraud cases and protect investors.

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