How does an anonymous whistleblower file a reward claim with the SEC whistleblower program?
What is the SEC whistleblower program?
As part of the Dodd-Frank Act, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was required to establish a whistleblower rewards program. The SEC Whistleblower Program implements the law’s requirement that the Commission pay whistleblowers, including anonymous SEC whistleblowers whose original information results in a sanction of $1 million or more a monetary reward.
What steps must be taken to file an anonymous claim?
The anonymity provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act work like this:
- If you want to file an anonymous reward claim, you must hire an attorney.
- You thereafter have to file the information for which you will base your reward on an official SEC complaint form known as a TCR. That form must be signed by the whistleblower, under oath.
- However, instead of filing the TCR with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the whistleblower submits the signed TCR to his or her attorney. The attorney must also obtain proof of the anonymous SEC whistleblower’ identity, usually through a copy of the whistleblower’s passport or driver’s license. The attorney must maintain a copy of the signed-reward form and the identity papers. The attorney is under an ethical obligation to maintain the identity of his or her client, unless the client waives that right.
- Thereafter, the attorney fill out another TCR form, with the precise information provided by the whistleblower, signs the form, and files the form on behalf of the whistleblower. In this way the SEC only knows the identity of the whistleblower’s attorney, and the identity of the anonymous SEC whistleblower remains confidential.
- By having the attorney sign the TCR form the SEC can help prevent fraudulent filings, hold the attorney accountable for any misconduct or false statement, and also maintain a credible point-of-contact permitting the SEC to communicate with the whistleblower through his or her attorney.
- The whistleblower can maintain his or her anonymity throughout the investigation. However, once the SEC sanctions a company for over $1 million, the whistleblower is required to file a new form, known as the APP form, in order to request the payment of a reward.
- At the time an APP form is filed, the SEC can require that the identity of the whistleblower be provided, and can require proof that the whistleblower provided to his or her attorney the signed TCR form and proof of identity prior to the attorney’s filing the reward claim.
Where can I obtain more information on the Dodd-Frank Act or the SEC whistleblower program?
The New Whistleblower’s Handbook contains extensive information on the Dodd-Frank Act whistleblower protections, including extensive information on the Security and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower rules. Rule 1 covers confidentiality and anonymity; Rule 8 covers the reward provisions of the Securities and Commodity Exchange Acts, Rule 9 covers the reward provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and Checklist —- includes an extensive Q&A on the entire SEC whistleblower rewards or qui tam program.
For a tax deductible donation of $50.00 or more, you can obtain a free copy of the Handbook from the National Whistleblower Center.
Where can I obtain legal assistance in filing a Dodd-Frank Act or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act whistleblower case, or any claim under the SEC Whistleblower program?
Please fill out one of the law firm’s intake forms describing your case.
What are the limits of this FAQ? Is there a disclaimer concerning the information presented here?
Whistleblower laws are complex. There are several qui tam or reward laws that can result in a whistleblower obtaining a multi-million-dollar judgment. Each of these laws has specific filing requirements. Additionally, there are over 50 different federal anti-retaliation laws designed to protect whistleblowers from discrimination. Again, each of these laws has various lengths of statutes of limitation, filing procedures, and definition of a protected disclosure.
These FAQs give whistleblowers an overview of significant whistleblower qui tam, reward, or anti-retaliation laws. They are not comprehensive. If you believe you may have a whistleblower case, you should contact an attorney and obtain specific advice based on the facts of your case. You cannot rely only on the information in this FAQ to determine whether or not you have a valid claim.
A critical resource for those thinking of blowing the whistle is The New Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself (Lyons Press 2017). The Handbook contains a detailed discussion on all major whistleblower laws and has extensive citations to legal cases and statutes the protect whistleblowers. It is an invaluable resource.
Because of the complexity of the whistleblower laws, we disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this FAQ. The FAQ is a summary guide to understanding your rights. You should contact an attorney with expertise in whistleblowing before you make a disclosure. You must know your rights before you “blow the whistle,” so you can ensure that your conduct will be protected.
Can the whistleblower attorneys working at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto help me?
The whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto has a straightforward intake process. It is available here. Every intake is confidential, and the information provided protected under the attorney-client privilege. A senior partner at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto reads each intake submission.
The intake process is free of charge.
Unfortunately, KKC receives many more requests for assistance then it can handle and must turn away many qualified whistleblowers. If KKC cannot represent you, you still may have a solid case.
If KKC believes you may have a case with which it can help you, you will receive a follow-up call or email to obtain more information and determine whether or not our firm can represent you. Until you have a signed written agreement with the firm, we are not your attorneys (although all of the information you provide to us is privileged and confidential). Almost all of our cases are on a contingency fee basis.