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SEC’s Actions on Whistleblower Program are Contrary to Congress’s Express Intent and Will Make Successful Program Investor- and Whistleblower-Unfriendly

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Contact: Pamela Russell at 202-618-6433 or prussell@bettermarkets.com
 
Washington, D.C.  –  Lev Bagramian, Senior Securities Policy Advisor at Better Markets, issued the following statement in response to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s vote on the changes to the Whistleblower Program:
 
“Today, the Trump administration’s SEC—in a partisan vote and contrary to the language and intent of the Dodd-Frank Act—approved harmful changes to its wildly successful Whistleblower Program that will weaken the program and deprive the SEC of valuable information while causing needless harm to investors. By giving itself undue discretion—not permitted by law—and otherwise imposing additional conditions on rewards, the Commission would disqualify meritorious submissions, and potential whistleblowers may be deterred from providing information on suspected fraud and illegal activities.
 
“These disincentives are the opposite of Congressional intent and a disservice to whistleblowers who often risk their careers to expose fraud and illegality that is hard to detect. Their actions help regulators and law enforcement agencies to quickly initiate enforcement proceedings that stop the illegal conduct, prevent significant future harm that would have gone on undetected, and serve as a deterrent to those scheming that they will likely be caught and punished.
 
“Today’s changes send a chilling message to all potential whistleblowers: if you provide original information—often at the risk of your career—your award may be arbitrarily reduced to conform to the ideological whims of the Commission or its staff. Additionally, the whistleblower’s submission may be deemed unoriginal (therefore disqualifying the whistleblower from an award), and he or she may be prohibited from applying for a reward in a related governmental action.  
 
“These changes were unanimously opposed by whistleblower advocates, investor advocates, Senators who support whistleblowers, and former whistleblowers themselves.  Instead of working to reduce the backlog and making the program even more investor- and whistleblower-friendly, the Commission—with the support of Wall Street and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—aims to weaken the program that has returned hundreds of millions of dollars to victims and penalized fraudsters to the tune of $2 billion.” 
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Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.  

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