CFTC Boosts Whistleblower Protections in Unanimous Vote

Whistleblowers who take information about possible violations to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will have added protections from retaliation under new rules adopted Monday.

The agency’s two commissioners — Acting Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo (R) and Commissioner Sharon Bowen (D) — both voted in favor of finalizing rules that will allow either a whistleblower or the CFTC to take legal action against companies that retaliate against the disclosure of illegal behavior to agency regulators.

The rules also bar employees of companies from actions that would “impede an individual from communicating directly” with the CFTC about rule violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, which the agency enforces, according to a fact sheet. That includes enforcing or threatening to enforce confidentiality agreements, the CFTC said.

The “basic framework” of existing whistleblower processes at the CFTC won’t change under the new rules, according to the agency. The changes also will line up CFTC whistleblower protection rules with similar efforts at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The CFTC’s whistleblower program has been in force since 2011, when the agency enacted rules on the issue required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Between Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016 — the most recent reporting period — the CFTC gave out monetary awards to three whistleblowers, with one award exceeding $10 million.

The new rules will take effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register.

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