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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

SEC requests comments on proposed amendments to whistleblower program

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance SEC Securities Whistleblower

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On June 28, the SEC voted to propose for public comment several rule amendments that seek to clarify certain existing rules and make technical amendments to its whistleblower program under Section 21F of the Securities Exchange Act. Among other things, the proposed changes would (i) allow awards based on money collected under deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements entered into by the DOJ or a state attorney general in a criminal case, or settlement agreements entered into by the SEC outside of a judicial or administrative proceeding that address securities law violations; (ii) eliminate the potential double recovery under the definition of “related action”; (iii) authorize the SEC to adjust an award’s percentage as appropriate to advance the goals of rewarding and incentivizing whistleblowers; (iv) establish a uniform definition of “whistleblower” in response to the Supreme Court's decision in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers (as previously covered in a Buckley Sandler Special Alert); and (v) clarify anti-retaliation protection requirements. The SEC also has included interpretative guidance on the terms “unreasonable delay” and “independent analysis.” Comments will be accepted for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.