December 6, 2010
December 6, 2010
Elizabeth M. Murphy, Secretary
Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F. Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549-1090
Re: File No. DF-Title IX Whistleblower Award Program
Attention: SEC Chairman and Commissioners
The purpose of this letter is to express concern with the dismantling of the whistleblower award provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Having served in a variety of roles supporting corporate compliance, since the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, has allowed me to witness first hand "the value" compliance professionals provide in exposing violations of law that would normally remain undetected.
Most compliance professionals "dutifully" notify employers prior to reporting problems externally. However, as history has shown, whistleblower concerns are generally marginalized and the employee is terminated.
The current proposal to limit whistleblower rights by "ignoring" the original legislative intent of Sarbanes-Oxley will have a "catastrophic" impact on shareholders and investors of publicly traded companies. Current in-house investigations are limited, rarely performed by subject matter experts and are generally geared toward concealing known violations.
Recent trends in the financial service sector, reflect the fact that employees no longer have the freedom to tell the truth, without fear. First amendment rights are repeatedly violated in the workplace.
If SEC fail to establish a credible whistleblower program to protect the rights of corporate whistleblowers, employees will resort to anonymous and indiscriminate disclosures of confidential information without any consideration of the consequences to protect one's career.
It is critical that the SEC fully support the Dodd-Frank Act which provides a reasonable level of protection for whistleblowers willing to "risk all" to prevent, in some instances, another financial disaster while preserving the integrity of the investigation.
Finally, it is important that "all" employees in the corporate sector "retain the right" to report externally, fraud concerns to federal law enforcement authorities or congressional members, in order to responsibly carry out their duties under Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations.
Whistleblowers should not be restricted to reporting concerns to employers first, if adverse conditions are already known by company or the SEC registrant has a history of fraud violations.
The SEC must develop a "user friendly" whistleblower program to restore public confidence that all complaints submitted will be reasonably and timely investigated to protect the investing public.
Thank you for giving the public this opportunity to comment on proposed rules.
Edna D. Fordham