Enough to Whet the Whistleblowers?

The Star
July 11, 2016

Jordan A. Thomas follows up on recommendations for Canadian whistleblower program

Stop fraud quicker. That could be the new marketing line for the Ontario Securities Commission as it unveiled the final version of its whistleblower policy and opens its new Office of the Whistleblower for business. Got a tip? Now’s your chance.

The big bet is that, by offering financial awards à la the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, tipsters all the way up to officers, directors,  and in-house counsel will be incentivized to report malfeasance. Information leading to successful enforcement action could result in a whistleblower award of as high as $5 million. (The award amount is tied to the resulting monetary sanctions imposed on the offending individual or company. As one would expect, protection of the whistleblower is a fundamental part of the new program.)

Firm partner and Chair of the Whistleblower Representation Practice Jordan A. Thomas, who helped establish the SEC’s Whistleblower Program, told a recent round table that the question facing the U.S. regulator in the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal (a $50 billion Ponzi scheme) and the 2008 financial crisis was whether the existing regulatory tactics and strategies were good enough. How ambitious did the SEC want to be about its enforcement agenda?

The whistleblower program was the SEC’s response. And, said Thomas, a no-cap financial incentive was central to its ongoing success. “Percentage is a natural regulator,” he said.