Dodd-Frank whistleblower incentives measures already seem to be working.
September 8, 2010 - Comments Off
In an effort to curb financial misconduct in the wake of the 2008 recession, the recent Dodd-Frank act strengthened the whistleblower protection measures of Sarbanes-Oxley Act by providing incentives to informants who step forward and speak up. According to the act, informants who provide “original information” to the Securities and Exchange Commission can be awarded at least 10%, and as much as 30%, of the sanctions that result from that information.
And it seems to be working. Officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission have reported a significant increase in reports of misconduct since the bill’s passage. Erika Keton, who was the lead attorney in a case that resulted in a fine of $2.3 billion for Pfizer Inc., reports seeing a new “flood of inquiries.” The increase in tips is visible from the SEC’s perspective as well. “We’ve gotten some very high-quality tips,” reported SEC official Stephen Cohen.
The increase in informants in likely due both to the increased compensation provided for informants (up from 10% previously), and the broadened domain of qualified informants. No longer only insiders, but any individual or group, public or private, may provide information and collect a bounty if their tip leads to the discovery of fraud. Academic experts and third party spectators—like Harry Markopolos , one of the first whistleblowers on Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme—are entitled to a reward for the first time under the Dodd-Frank provisions.
The SEC has set aside a $300 million fund to pay the bounties, which will be continually sustained through funds retrieved through the program.
Read more about the increase in fraud tips since Dodd-Frank in the Wall Street Journal here.