In a recent interview with Law360 (subscription required), Chris Ehrman, the Director of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Whistleblower Office, predicted that the number and size of the CFTC’s whistleblower awards will increase in the near future. Ehrman also said that the agency will conduct “straight marketing” to ensure that potential whistleblowers are aware of the agency’s whistleblower bounty program.
The CFTC’s Whistleblower Program is similar to the SEC’s program in that whistleblowers who voluntarily provide the CFTC with original information about violations of the Commodity Exchange Act resulting in a $1 million or greater recovery are eligible to receive 10 to 30 percent of the monies collected. Ehrman acknowledged that the CFTC’s whistleblower program, which paid its first award in May 2014 and has received only 227 whistleblower tips in fiscal year 2014 versus the SEC’s 3,620, has gotten off to a slower start than the SEC’s program. Ehrman attributes the slow start to the fact that the CFTC, which is limited to regulating the commodities industry, has a “smaller footprint than the SEC.” Ehrman also noted that, unlike the SEC, the CFTC does not have the authority to enforce Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation provision.
In the interview, Ehrman stated that he remains focused on marketing the CFTC’s Whistleblower Program to increase the number of whistleblower tips and complaints. Ehrman touted the importance of the agency’s marketing efforts, noting that the CFTC’s functions are highly technical and, even within the financial services industry, there is a lack of familiarity and understanding of the agency’s purpose and jurisdiction.
In light of Ehrman’s statements, we can expect to see the number and frequency of CFTC whistleblower awards to increase in the near future.