CFTC Announces Multiple “Game Changing” Whistleblower Awards Totaling More than $45 Million
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced multiple whistleblower awards totaling more than $45 million. Christopher Ehrman, Director of the CFTC’s Whistleblower Office, stated that “the sheer magnitude of the $45 million in monetary awards announced  demonstrates the game-changing nature of the Whistleblower Program.” CFTC Chairman, J. Christopher Giancarlo, added “the CFTC is committed to creating a level playing field for all market participants, and the Whistleblower Program is helping us achieve this goal. I hope that [these]awards encourage anyone with knowledge of violations of the Commodity Exchange Act to come forward and become a whistleblower.”
Under the CFTC’s whistleblower program, whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 10 and 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected for providing original information about violations of the Commodity Exchange Act. In addition to monetary awards, the Commodity Exchange Act provides confidentiality protections for all whistleblowers – even if the CFTC does not pursue an action. This means that the CFTC will not disclose any information which could reasonably be expected to reveal a whistleblower’s identity, except in limited circumstances such as when disclosure is required in connection with a public proceeding. Consistent with this confidentiality requirement, the CFTC will not disclose the name of the enforcement action in which the whistleblower provided information, the award percentage granted to the whistleblower, and the exact dollar amount of the award granted. While the CFTC press release states that it made “multiple whistleblower awards totaling more than $45 million,” it is not clear how many whistleblowers received the award, or whether the multiple awards relate to the same investigation.
It is clear that the CFTC is prioritizing enforcement of the Commodity Exchange Act and is determined to encourage whistleblowers to come forward. Christopher Ehrman stressed that “whistleblowers are increasingly providing high-quality information about violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, and the Division of Enforcement is committed to both protecting and rewarding these deserving whistleblowers.” James McDonald, Director of the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement, had a similar sentiment, saying “whistleblowers have added significant value to our enforcement program by enabling the Commission to swiftly identify misconduct and hold wrongdoers accountable. I expect this trend to continue as the Commission continues to receive increasing numbers of high-quality whistleblower tips.”