Almost anyone who is willing to voluntarily provide original information related to fraud, abuse, corruption, or misconduct is eligible to act as a whistleblower and obtain rewards and protection from the U.S. government. There are some minor exceptions that we will review with you to determine your eligibility.
No. A whistleblower often works inside the organization at which the misconduct occurs, but being a company “insider” is not essential to serving as a whistleblower. What matters is that the whistleblower discloses information derived from their independent knowledge or analysis.
There is no maximum award level. Recent years have seen whistleblowers receive substantial awards for their assistance to the government. In 2020, a whistleblower received a then-record $114 million reward for information provided to the SEC that led to successful enforcement actions undertaken by two government agencies. That record was surpassed one year later, when the CFTC awarded nearly $200 million to a whistleblower whose information led multiple successful enforcement actions. In 2023, the SEC reclaimed the record by awarding a whistleblower $279 million.
Yes. All four programs available to crypto whistleblowers provide an opportunity for the whistleblower to appeal the agency’s decision either by seeking reconsideration of a preliminary determination, or, in some cases, by removing proceedings to federal court. An experienced attorney is imperative for any whistleblower who appeals an agency’s determination. We can ensure that you are compliant with any appeals deadlines the agencies may have, and we can draw on decades of advocacy experience to craft written responses that emphasize the significance of your information and weigh toward the issuance of a larger reward.
The Dodd-Frank Act, passed by Congress in 2010, prohibits a variety of retaliation tactics and holds that employers may not discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, directly or indirectly, or in any other manner discriminate against a whistleblower. Similarly, the Taxpayer First Act, singed into law in 2019, prohibits the discharge, demotion, suspension, threating, harassment, or discrimination against tax whistleblowers.
A whistleblower who is the victim of retaliation may bring an action in federal court against an employer (in some cases after exhausting administrative remedies).
According to FinCEN, the following types of businesses must comply with the AML, KYC, and other provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act:
What types of violations to report:
In short, you have to approach the government with your information before the government asks you for information. More specifically, information is provided “voluntarily” if you provide it to the government before a request, inquiry, or demand that relates to the same subject matter is directed to you or anyone representing you by a regulatory or law enforcement agency or any other authority of the federal government.
Independent analysis,” according to the SEC, means your own analysis (whether done alone or in combination with others) that includes an “examination and evaluation of information that may be publicly available, but which reveals information that is not generally known or available to the public.” In order for a submission to qualify as “independent analysis,” the whistleblower must do more than point to publicly available information. Information does not constitute independent analysis if the whistleblower merely directs the staff to publicly available information and states that the information itself suggests a fraud or other violations. Rather, the whistleblower must use the publicly available materials to show important insights about the possible securities laws violations that are not apparent from the face of the materials.
If you have additional questions about the processes and programs available to whistleblowers or you have specific questions relating to a possible whistleblowing claim, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or (773) 600-9480 (cell/Signal/WhatsApp).
Any information provided to Levy Firestone Muse in the course of our correspondence is protected under the attorney-client privilege and will not be disclosed to any third party without your express consent.
Yes. You can be eligible for a whistleblower award even if you live outside the US and/or you are not a US citizen.
Whistleblowers may receive up to 30% of the total monetary sanctions collected by the government as a result of the original information they provide. The range of awards available depends on the applicable whistleblower program.
The government has discretion to determine the exact percentage of the funds collected within the spectrum of percentages available under the law (10-30% for the SEC and CFTC, 15-30% for the IRS, and 10-30% for FinCEN). The factors the government considers before determining an award vary by agency. In general, the following factors will weigh toward a larger award for the whistleblower:
On the other hand, the following factors may weigh against a whistleblower receiving the maximum award:
The SEC, CFTC, and FinCEN allow whistleblowers to report their information anonymously, but only if they do so through an attorney. The attorney, however, must know the whistleblower’s identity.
The IRS does not allow anonymous whistleblowing but is committed to “protect the identity of the whistleblower to the fullest extent permitted by the law. Under some circumstances, such as when the whistleblower is an essential witness in a judicial proceeding, it may not be possible to pursue the investigation or examination without revealing the whistleblower’s identity.” The IRS has stated that in such cases, it will inform the whistleblower before deciding whether to proceed.
If you know anyone using crypto to hide their income from the IRS or who has failed to report their crypto earnings to the IRS, you can blow the whistle. The IRS will award a whistleblower with between 15% and 30% of the proceeds collected and attributable to the whistleblower’s information in cases where the money owed the IRS exceeds $2 million and the taxpayer’s income exceeds $200,000.
“Original information” is information derived from your independent knowledge or independent analysis that is not already known to the government. Your information cannot be derived from publicly available sources, unless your analysis of that public information reveals information that is not generally known.
If the government received your information previously from another person, that information will not be original information unless you were the original source of the information that the other person submitted.
Some information is excluded from the definition of “original information”, such as information subject to the attorney-client privilege or information learned because you held certain titles at a company (such as an officer or director) and you learned the information from another person or through the entity’s internal reporting systems.
Crypto exchanges must implement anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) programs to prevent criminals from using their service to launder criminal proceeds or evade US sanctions. And not just exchanges; a wide variety of participants in the crypto space are money services businesses (MSBs) subject to the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act.
Entities subject to AML regulations and KYC requirements include the following:
An individual’s legal exposure is highly fact-specific, and a whistleblower is not necessarily immunized from criminal prosecution. This underscores the importance of finding qualified counsel to serve as your advocate and to evaluate risks before proceeding with the whistleblowing process.