Commodity Whistleblowers May Hit the Jackpot: Enhanced Bounty Rules in the Works

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The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) is proposing amendments to its Dodd-Frank whistleblower regulations to bring them more in line with the SEC’s whistleblower bounty program. This is perhaps not surprising given the relative success of the SEC’s program compared to the CFTC’s program to date (over $100 million in SEC bounties versus about $10 million in CFTC bounties).  The proposed changes would include the following:

  • Giving the CFTC the ability to bring anti-retaliation suits in its own name (previously it interpreted Dodd-Frank as only providing for private causes of action);
  • Providing that “no person may take any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the Commission’s staff about a possible violation of the Commodity Exchange Act, including by enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement….”  This is much like the SEC’s Rule 21F-17, which that agency has used to aggressively prosecute cases against companies and collect significant fines; and
  • Enhancing the ability of whistleblowers to recover bounties for “related” actions brought by agencies other than the CFTC.

In addition, the proposed regulations would extend the time frame for a whistleblower to report to the CFTC after reporting internally and still be award-eligible from 120 to 180 days.  Comments will be accepted until September 29, 2016, and we will keep our readers posted on the rule-making in this area.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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