Anti-retaliation whistleblower protections are getting a new boost under the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), after the agency’s board unanimously approved amendments to current rules in an effort to make it less risky for would-be whistleblowers to call out fraud and other wrongdoing.
Changes to the Commodity Exchange Act will now allow the CFTC and whistleblowers to bring an action against an employer in cases of alleged retaliation. The amendments also bar employers from using confidentiality, pre-dispute arbitration, or similar agreements to obstruct potential whistleblowers from communicating with CFTC staff about possible commodities laws violations, the agency said.
In addition to strengthening anti-retaliation protections, the new amendments will add efficiency and transparency to the process of deciding whistleblower award claims, the CFTC said. The changes will harmonize the CFTC’s rules with those of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) whistleblower program.
The CFTC is also replacing its Whistleblower Award Determination Panel with a Claims Review Staff in considering and issuing a preliminary determination as to whether an award claims should be granted or denied. Whistleblowers who are rejected may view the CFTC’s record and contest the preliminary determination before the agency issues a final determination in the case.
The amended rules will go into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
“The Whistleblower Program is an integral part of the Division’s efforts to identify and prosecute unlawful conduct. The Commission’s approval of these rules today will further strengthen and enhance our efforts to protect customers and promote market integrity,” said James McDonald, head of the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement.