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CFTC Gives Whistleblower $240,000 in First Award Under Dodd-Frank

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The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) finally made a whistleblower award under its Dodd-Frank mandate, but released virtually no information about the enforcement action that led to its $240,000 payout.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, the CFTC’s whistleblower program pays bounties of 10% to 30% to informants who provide significant help in cases that result in the government’s recovery of  more than $1 million for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act.

In this case, the CFTC said, a whistleblower provided “specific, timely and credible information that led to the Commission bringing important enforcement actions.” It didn’t say anything further about the case, however, and it didn’t name the whistleblower.

Like its cousin at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the CFTC’s Whistleblower Office has been a slow starter since its setup in 2011. According to its current director, Christopher Ehrman, the CFTC’s specialized mission means that it has received fewer than 200 tips a year, compared to the SEC’s thousands.

Mr. Ehrman has said that his office’s success must be judged on a 10-year timeline — and that, unlike his counterpart at the SEC, Sean McKessy, he won’t make it a mission to enforce Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation provisions. Last year the CFTC’s public whistleblower actions were limited to a request to use its untapped whistleblower award fund to pay travel expenses for its employees.

This week, in announcing the office’s long-awaited first award, Mr. Ehrman called the whistleblower program “a necessary enforcement tool.”

“[M]y hope is that this award will send the strong message that the CFTC will pay for information that helps us do our jobs,” he said.

The CFTC’s acting chairman, Mark Wetjen, echoed the point, saying that the $240,000 award “illustrates that the CFTC’s Whistleblower Program is a valuable resource for the American public.”

No word on when to look for a second award.

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