Things to Know Before Becoming a Whistleblower
If you recently became aware of illegal activities or financial misconduct within your company and are considering reporting these violations to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), there are some important facts that you should be aware of before you become a whistleblower.
It will be important for you to seek representation from an SEC whistleblower law firm who can protect your identity, explain the reporting process in detail, and help you obtain a monetary award for the information you’ve provided.
Internal Compliance Programs
Most, if not all, institutions will have an internal compliance program in which you are able to report any misgivings to the company for further investigation. It will depend on your company’s policies if you are able to do so anonymously or if your identity must be revealed.
You are not required, as a whistleblower, to report to the internal compliance program before reporting your information to the SEC to collect an award. If you do report your findings to the company, we advise that you also immediately report to the SEC as well to protect your right to collect an award.
Working with a whistleblower attorney at Meissner Associates is the best way to protect your identity if you wish to remain anonymous. We can report your tip for you to the SEC and be the “middle man” for any communications between you and the SEC officer working on your information.
Your identity may ultimately need to be revealed to the SEC in order for you to collect your award, but you may remain anonymous to your colleagues, supervisors, and others within your place of employment.
When You Blow the Whistle
You need to be aware that when you shed light on securities law violations within your company, you should expect there to be some level of chaos. This is particularly true if this information played a significant role in the success of the company.
Even with your identity protected, an investigation by the SEC is sure to shake things up at work. You need to be prepared for the financial ramifications that may come into play if, in the worst-case scenario, the company is forced to permanently or temporarily shut down.
The implementation of strict anti-retaliation laws in Dodd-Frank was designed to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Would-be whistleblowers were previously afraid of being demoted, fired, harassed, or ostracized at work for giving their information to the internal compliance program or the SEC.
While these provisions do offer protection, the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in whistleblowing can be the best way to ensure that you do not face retaliation for blowing the whistle on securities laws violations.
Eligibility for an Award
To qualify for a monetary award from your whistleblower tip, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be an eligible person. This can be anyone with insider information, with the exception of the company CPAs, executives, and the like.
- Your tip must be original and not something derived from a media source. It is pertinent that you act quickly if you wish to receive a whistleblower reward. If another whistleblower reports the same tip before you do, you won’t be eligible for a reward.
- You have to provide your tip voluntarily, meaning the SEC cannot compel you to provide your information or ask you questions about misconduct before you come forward.
- The investigation must lead to an enforceable action within the justice system.
- Sanctions collected need to be a minimum of $1 million, of which you may receive 10 to 30 percent, depending on the significance of the information you contribute.
Each of these qualifications must be met for you to be able to claim a portion of the funds recovered in an SEC investigation. If even one of these isn’t met, you will not be eligible for any award amount.
Consult with a Whistleblower Attorney
Before you become a whistleblower, you should review the information provided above and speak with a knowledgeable SEC whistleblower attorney. At Meissner Associates, we are committed to protecting whistleblowers’ rights and bringing justice to securities law fraudsters.
To schedule your free, confidential tip evaluation today, give us a call at 1-866-764-3100 or fill out our contact form at the bottom of this page.