In prior posts, I have addressed a question raised by many potential SEC whistleblowers and new SEC whistleblower attorneys, namely whether the SEC will be interested in the kind of information that they have.
Sometimes the answer may be fairly obvious, such as where the information concerns insider trading or stock market manipulation.
Other times it may be a bit more confusing, as with money laundering. Most people have a general understanding of what “money laundering” means. What they may not realize is that public companies and financial institutions also may have “anti-money laundering” obligations. For example, they may be required to maintain certain records, or file reports in particular circumstances, like suspicious activity reports or “SARs”. The SEC can and does bring “anti-money laundering” cases when public companies and financial institutions fail to maintain those records or file those reports. As I wrote about last month, the SEC recently brought its first case against a firm solely for failing to file SARs.
Another area that is not as well understood is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, also known as the FCPA. In broad terms, companies are not allowed to pay foreign government officials money, i.e., bribes, in order to obtain a business advantage in the foreign country. Whether the FCPA has been violated is not always obvious. For example, for FCPA purposes, a “government official” might include the official’s close relatives. Making a payment or providing gifts to the spouse or child of a foreign government official for the purpose of gaining an advantage in doing business in that country could violate the FCPA and lead to an SEC action.
Sometimes a foreign government actually owns a type of business in the foreign country that is typically a private business in the United States. For example, in the U.S., many hospitals are privately owned. But in a foreign country, if a foreign government owns the hospitals, giving the doctors in those hospitals free pharmaceutical samples or medical devices might violate the FCPA and lead to an SEC action.
Just recently, the SEC charged a medical device manufacturer and its wholly-owned subsidiary with FCPA violations. The company and its subsidiary agreed to pay nearly $15 million to settle the SEC’s case and a related criminal case.
FCPA violations, anti-money laundering violations, insider trading, and market manipulation are just a few of the many types of cases that the SEC may be interested in hearing about from SEC whistleblowers. If you are thinking about becoming an SEC whistleblower, or are an SEC whistleblower attorney, my post from last week titled “SEC Chief of Staff Identifies Areas of Heightened Attention” lists many other kinds of frauds and violations that the SEC also investigates.
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As an SEC whistleblower law firm, The Pickholz Law Offices has represented employees, officers, and others in SEC whistleblower cases involving financial institutions and public companies listed in the Fortune Top 10, Top 20, Top 50, Top 100, Top 500, and the Forbes Global 2000. We were the first law firm ever to win an SEC whistleblower award for a client on appeal to the full Commission in Washington, an achievement that Inside Counsel magazine named one of the five milestones of the SEC whistleblower program.
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If you would like to speak with an SEC whistleblower lawyer, please feel free to call Jason R. Pickholz at 347-746-1222.
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