Jordan A. Thomas expects an increase in international whistleblowers
Bloomberg BNA | Inside Counsel | Law360 | AmLaw Litigation Daily
September 22, 2014
On September 22, 2014, the SEC announced that it will award an unnamed foreign national more than $30 million for information that led to an enforcement action.
The SEC's previous largest-ever reward—$14 million awarded in October 2013 (191 SLD, 10/2/13)—resulted in a spike in the program, said Jordan Thomas, a Washington-based Labaton Sucharow LLP partner who chairs the firm's Whistleblower Representation Practice. "I would expect a similar spike with the announcement of" this reward, he told Bloomberg BNA.
The SEC's highlighting of the international aspects of its latest reward will increase the level of participation by foreign tipsters, Thomas said. The message will reach some individuals "who have heard about the SEC's whistle-blower program but didn't know foreign nationals could participate."
Jordan A. Thomas, chair of the Whistleblower Representation practice at Labaton Sucharow LLP and former assistant director at the SEC, believes that this message will be received. "There's a growing awareness of the program, which spiked after the last major award," he says. "I expect a similar spike following this award."
"Most people don't know that 11 percent of the tips are from foreign nationals," he explains. "This is because markets are so intertwined. If something happens in a U.K. subsidiary or a company that has ties to the U.S. market, the U.S. would have jurisdiction."
"You can expect more awards this year than last and bigger awards in coming years."
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Jordan Thomas, who chairs the whistleblower representation practice at Labaton Sucharow, said in an interview that it's still too soon to judge the overall effectiveness of the SEC's program. "I think they're doing a pretty good job," he said. "SEC cases take two to four years. You see the momentum growing....There's been increasing awareness of the program."
But Thomas noted that corporations continue to pressure employees not to report concerns about wrongdoing to the government. "Companies are increasingly using confidentiality agreements to deter whistleblowers from reporting externally," he said.
"I think that more and more international whistleblowers will report in the U.S. as opposed to overseas because the incentives and protections are strong here," said Jordan Thomas, chair of the whistleblower protection practice at Labaton Sucharow LLP.