September 30, 2022

More on “SEC Whistleblower Program: Pulling Back the Curtain”

Whistleblower Network News and the National Whistleblower Center issued a response this week to critiques of the SEC whistleblower program that were published by Bloomberg Law and a professor earlier this year, which I blogged about at the time. WNN investigated the FOIA documents that formed the basis for those reports – and posted these findings to demonstrate that the program is “well-run, honest, and fair”:

– The Argument presented by Bloomberg and Platt that a small group of former SEC employees dominates the program is inaccurate. The FOIA documents revealed that 64 different law firms represented whistleblowers who obtained rewards and that over 80% of these firms never employed a former SEC attorney.

– The articles stated or implied that the program was prejudicial to whistleblowers not represented by attorneys. The FOIA documents revealed that 54 award recipients were pro se and not represented by counsel. This number is an incredibly high percentage of positive reward decisions, given that courts almost always dismiss pro se claims.

– The FOIA documents produced no direct evidence of any misconduct.

– No evidence that the SEC program was illegally “shrouded in secrecy.” Indeed, the FOIA requests identifying the law firms that represented whistleblowers were responded to in full, except in three cases where identifying the firm could have resulted in identifying the whistleblower. Regarding those cases, the SEC advised Platt of his right to appeal the withholding in court.

– The SEC FOIA office fully cooperated with Platt’s FOIA requests over two years. The FOIA documents identify attorneys and law firms representing successful applicants in all but three cases. They also identify the cases involved, copies of the decisions involved, and the amounts awarded (or the percentage of an award) in each case. Likewise, every award given to a pro se litigate was identified, along with the amount of each award and the underlying award decision.

Liz Dunshee