CFTC Announces Its Largest Ever Whistleblower Award of Approximately $30 Million

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced its largest-ever whistleblower award of approximately $30 million today.  The CFTC wrote that the whistleblower “voluntarily provided key original information that led to a successful enforcement action.”  

The award is the fifth CFTC whistleblower award and a great reminder of the program’s commitment to anonymity, as the CFTC does not disclose the whistleblower’s identity nor does it identify the case to which the whistleblower reward is related.  

The CFTC’s Whistleblower Program was established in 2010 and is intended to reward individuals who provide information leading to CFTC enforcement actions which result in more than $1 million in monetary sanctions.  The program has several unique aspects, including making awards based on information provided to the CFTC even if another agency ultimately collects the sanctions and the aforementioned anonymity that carries through from the filing of the complaint all the way to the CFTC’s press release announcing a whistleblower award. 

The anonymity and the large whistleblower award amount should encourage other whistleblowers to come forward to report fraud committed against commodity investors and the government.  Judging from the comments below from CFTC officials, the program has become an effective tool for the agency, so hopefully, we’ll see even larger and more frequent whistleblower awards in the future.  The previous high award of more than $10 million was announced back in August 2016.  

The Whistleblower Program has become an integral component in the agency’s enforcement arsenal.  We hope that an award of this magnitude will incentivize whistleblowers to come forward with valuable information and provide notice to market participants that individuals are reporting quality information about violations of the Commodity Exchange Act [CEA].

  • J. Christopher Giancarlo, CFTC Chairman

Whistleblower submissions have become a significant part of our enforcement program, allowing us to pursue violations we might otherwise have been unable to detect. That’s one reason why we’ve worked hard to expand our Whistleblower Program, including by increasing the protections afforded to whistleblowers that come forward. I expect the Whistleblower Program to contribute even more substantially to our enforcement efforts going forward.

  • James McDonald, Director of the Division of Enforcement

The award today is a demonstration of the program’s commitment to reward those who provide quality information to the CFTC. The number of leads the office receives continues to grow each year by the hundreds. We hope that this award will continue to facilitate the upward momentum and success of the CFTC’s Whistleblower Program by attracting those with knowledge of wrongdoing to come forward.

  • Christopher Ehrman, Director of the CFTC’s Whistleblower Office
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