Section 922 of Dodd-Frank added new section 21F to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, creating a whistleblower bounty program under which individuals who voluntarily provide original information leading to successful Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement actions may receive bounty payments based on penalties assessed against respondents. The general rule is that whistleblowers who voluntarily furnish original information to the SEC or CFTC that results in a successful prosecution netting monetary penalties in excess of $1 million are entitled, with some exceptions, to bounties of ten percent to thirty percent of the amount recovered in the government enforcement actions. Lawyers, whether in-house or outside, are generally ineligible for Dodd-Frank whistleblower bounties. However, the rules promulgated under Dodd-Frank offer exceptions. Securities lawyers confronted with evidence of corporate wrongdoing are faced with conflicting ethical and fiduciary responsibilities. Would-be whistleblowers are well advised to consider the varying and potentially conflicting obligations of SEC and state ethics regulations. Lawyers who report out corporate wrongdoing may run afoul of state ethics regulations, and could, at least theoretically, be subject to state discipline. Moreover, lawyers should be mindful of the potential that their professional judgment could be influenced by the prospect of collecting a bounty from the government under the Dodd-Frank Act.
- Dodd Frank Act,
- Attorney Ethics,
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