Whistleblowing in the US: a case of schizophrenia?

November 2015 By Kelly L. Frey
Financier Worldwide

The US appears to have a somewhat schizophrenic approach to whistleblowing. While whistleblowers in the US have had a host of federal and state protections and incentives dating back to the 1863 False Claims Act, the fact is that whistleblower protections in the US represent a patchwork of ill-implemented and ill-understood enforcement schemas that practically result in most whistleblowers’ claims going uninvestigated and whistleblowers never fully recovering their prior earnings potential after they become informant.

Even the most touted Dodd-Frank provisions, related to protecting informants of fraud in publicly held companies, have practically resulted in minimal government activity – with a 4 May 2015 Wall Street Journal article indicating that of the 297 whistleblowers who actually applied for awards since 2011, 247 (83 percent) had received no decision from the SEC. Similarly, from 2011-2014, the SEC received over 10,000 whistleblower tips, yet finished investigating only 50 and made only 17 payouts under the relevant statute through the spring of 2015.

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