Today, Whistleblower Network News (WNN) released the second exclusive article in a series detailing an investigation into the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Whistleblower Program. In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by WNN and the National Whistleblower Center (NWC), the SEC released the 1034 pages of documents that served as the basis for recent articles attacking the agency's highly successful whistleblower program. WNN's first exclusive outlined Big Law's previously undisclosed involvement in the SEC program.
The second exclusive reveals that articles critiquing the program by University of Kansas Professor Alexander Platt and Bloomberg Law distort the facts and unfairly criticize the Commission's whistleblower program. Platt and Bloomberg's claims that the program has been “captured by a small group of well-connected repeat player attorneys” and is “shrouded in secrecy” do not hold up to an analysis of the data made available by the SEC.
“The documents demonstrate that the SEC carefully processed numerous whistleblower claims from individuals not represented by attorneys. It also shows that a vast majority of the law firms that successfully represented whistleblowers do not have any former SEC employees on staff,” explained whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn, who represented WNN in the FOIA proceeding.
“Furthermore, the SEC's extended and comprehensive cooperation with the FOIA requests demonstrates the agency's commitment to transparency around the whistleblower program while retaining its commitment to protecting whistleblowers' confidentiality,” Kohn added.
Key findings from WNN's investigation include:
- 64 separate law firms represented whistleblowers who obtained rewards and over 80% of these firms never employed a former SEC attorney
- 54 whistleblower award recipients were pro se and not represented by counsel
- The FOIA documents produced no direct evidence of any misconduct
- The SEC was transparent and responded in full to all FOIA requests identifying the law firms that represented whistleblowers, except in three cases where identifying the firm could have resulted in identifying the whistleblower
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