If you’re considering blowing the whistle on possible securities fraud violations taking place in a company you work for or have knowledge about, you are probably wondering whether you can remain anonymous when you report a tip, whether you’ll be able to collect an award, and how you can protect yourself against retaliation if your identity becomes known.
There is much to know about how the SEC investigates tips and how to become an award-winning whistleblower. Continue reading for some key points to digest before deciding if becoming an SEC whistleblower is right for you.
Probably one of the most important tips for would-be whistleblowers is to act quickly when you learn of a possible violation. In order for a whistleblower to qualify for an award, the tip must be “original.”
If, for example, you just became aware of a rogue trader within your company, and your coworkers are privy to the same information, you need to report the tip before they do in order to be eligible for an award.
In addition, the information you provide must not have been disclosed to the public. If you heard it in a news report or other media outlet and then reported it, you would not be eligible. If you can provide supporting documentation, violator names, or specific transaction details, it can only benefit your case.
If you hope to garner an award as an SEC whistleblower, and the SEC has already begun an investigation into the corporation in question, you need to move quickly. Not only could the commission already have the information you can provide, but if investigators come to you and begin asking questions, simply answering them doesn’t make you an eligible whistleblower.
You must come forward either before the SEC begins to investigate or as soon as you become aware that the commission believes the company has violated securities laws. If you are able to provide valuable information that investigators weren’t previously aware of, your award could be dramatically increased if they are able to collect sanctions in excess of $1,000,000.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act, employers are not legally able to retaliate against their employees for blowing the whistle on a violation. Acts of retaliation could include harassment, demotion, suspension, the creation of a hostile work environment, the tarnishing of a whistleblower’s professional reputation, and termination.
If you have been a victim of retaliation, be sure to document as much about your situation as you can. Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor against your employer and receive back pay, compensation for damage to your reputation, and reinstatement to your previous position (including pay rate and seniority).
When you have information about a potential securities law violation and are considering becoming a whistleblower, these tips can help ease your mind about reporting your tip to the SEC. If you have additional questions about what to expect once you blow the whistle, contact an SEC whistleblower lawyer at Meissner Associates.
You can schedule a free consultation today by filling out the contact form we’ve provided below or simply giving us a call at 1-866-764-3100.