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Financial Fraud Law

‘Maybe Just Whistle’: #7 in Financial Fraud Law for the Year

 “You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and ... blow.”

That’s what Lauren Bacall told Humphrey Bogart in the 1944 movie classic, “To Have and Have Not.”

And “maybe just whistle” is what federal and state prosecutors are telling employees, customers, and other people across the country more and more often nowadays. It seems to be working: The financial crisis and Dodd-Frank have led to a record growth in whistleblower lawsuits and calls to the authorities. 

Consider, for example, that the Securities and Exchange Commission received over 3,200 tips and complaints last year – an average of about nine per day, day in and day out – and that it gave out over $14 million in payments under its whistleblower program, which is now in its third year.

Certainly, whistleblowing is not new – we here at the Financial Fraud Law Blog recently pointed out the death of Merrell Williams Jr., who blew the whistle on Big Tobacco quite some time ago.

But whistleblowing has never been bigger or more important to corporate governance and to those who manage government on a day-to-day basis. Moreover, it most certainly is going to continue to grow in significance to corporate America, government, and financial fraud lawyers as more people see (or think they see) financial fraud or other shenanigans and recognize the opportunity to “do good” and for personal gain by letting regulators or prosecutors know what's going on.

We note that Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a long time advocate for whistleblowers who co-authored the 1989 whistleblower law designed to protect federal whistleblowers and who authored changes made in 1986 to the President Lincoln-era federal False Claims Act to empower private-sector whistleblowers, have just introduced legislation that they say would “help lessen the impact of a federal court ruling (Kaplan v. Conyers) that would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers who help root out waste, fraud and abuse from within the federal government.”

Thus, #7 in Financial Fraud Law for the Year is:

#7: Whistleblowers.

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