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Topic: Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

SEC Whistleblower Chief Reportedly Pleased With High-Quality Leads Received Since Beginning of Whistleblower Rewards Program

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According to a report this week in the Financial Times, the chief of the Securities Exchange Commission’s new Whistleblower Office, Sean McKessey, stated that the SEC has “received notes, audio recordings of conversations and simple recollections” of securities fraud and other wrongdoing since a new whistleblower reward program promising rewards for whistleblowers began last year.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 requires that the SEC pay rewards to whistleblowers who voluntarily provide the SEC with original information that leads to successful enforcement actions.  Under the new law, whistleblowers who report fraud can qualify to receive 10 to 30% of the amount that the SEC recovers through lawsuits and settlements.

McKessey noted that his office has “been very pleased with the percentage of whistleblowers tips that have [signs] of reliability either because they’re from somebody working at the company they’re complaining about or there’s a sufficient amount of specificity, or both.”

McKessey also clarified that his office accepts both electronic and paper tip submissions and, while the SEC receives a greater amount of tips electronically, in at least one case, McKessey found a paper submission to be “extraordinarily specific and credible.” One such whistleblower tip reportedly formed the basis for the SEC opening a case last week.

The Employment Law Group® law firm is a leader in the field of whistleblower law and recently published a guide on the SEC’s new rules for the Dodd-Frank whistleblower program.

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Former Executive Alleges that GE Retaliated against Him for Objecting to Company’s Efforts to Influence Iraqi Officials

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Khaled Asadi, a former General Electric executive based in Iraq, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Houston, Texas, against General Electric (GE) on February 3, 2012, alleging that the company retaliated against him after he raised concerns about potential internal corruption. Asadi states in his complaint, that he was coerced to step down from his position at GE because he objected to a decision that he believed could damage GE’s international reputation and may even violate the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act.

Asadi claims that in 2010, GE hired a woman who could influence a senior Iraqi official to help GE obtain contracts from the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity. After he raised the issue with his supervisor and the GE ombudsperson, GE assigned Asadi an “extremely negative and troubling performance review” and forced him to step down from his position, which he had held since 2006.

Asadi brought his suit under the Anti-Whistleblower Retaliation provisions of the Securities Exchange Act, which protects employees of publically traded companies who report unlawful behavior by their employers. Asadi is seeking reinstatement to his prior position at GE, lost wages, and  attorney fees and costs.

A spokesman for GE denied the accusation and stated, “Mr. Asadi’s termination had absolutely nothing to do with any allegations he is making. Regarding our contracts in Iraq, GE followed all requirements and his allegations are false.”

The Employment Law Group® law firm has an extensive nationwide whistleblower practice representing employees who have been victims of retaliation.

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