September 7, 2010
Thank you for providing the opportunity to put forth any comments and concerns in relation to the Dodd Frank Financial Reform Act. The Dodd-Frank Act will provide a huge incentive to whistleblowers to come forth with information against corporations. In the wake of the new monetary reward, people will be more willing to report illegal activities and share information pertaining to such activities, which might otherwise be difficult to obtain.
I write specifically in reference to the FCPA Act vis-a-vis the Dodd Frank Act. The issue that I'm most concerned about is the extent of 'anonymity' provided to whistleblowers, especially whistleblowers from foreign jurisdictions. As the FCPA Act has extra-territorial reach, there might be people in foreign countries wanting to come forth with information regarding corrupt practices/activities. In a lot of developing countries/emerging markets where US companies have operations, the rate of corruption is significantly high and activities such as bribing government officials, at times, becomes a way of facilitating business. Given the political environment and the influence government officials in such countries may wield, a potential whistleblower wanting to report corrupt activities involving government officials may actually end up fearing for his and his family's lives. Such whistleblowers may be more comfortable risking reporting if they are assured that their names would be kept strictly anonymous. Another concern such person may have is to what extent his or name will be kept anonymous.
In such a scenario, 'anonymity' would be very important. Also, it would be helpful to know the exact procedure involved for a foreign whistleblower to report information, whether it will be any different than for those in the US? Can the SEC assure anonymity to a whistleblower and would the SEC at any point in time, e.g., pre-trial, settlement negotiations, discovery, trial, etc. be under any obligation to reveal the name and information of the whistleblower? Hope the SEC takes these issues into account while crafting rules and regulations under the whistleblower program.