The LA Times reported last week on a series of trends in securities fraud. The $65 billion lost in the Madoff scandal highlights the huge losses millions of investors suffer as a result of corporate fraud. Meanwhile, the new enforcement chief at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reports a dramatic rise in enforcement actions. The numbers of formal investigations and restraining orders have approximately doubled. The total sum of restitution orders has more than doubled.
After serving his first year as the SEC’s enforcement director, Robert Khuzami is now calling for improving the protections for whistleblowers, and even rewarding them for turning in their bosses or co-conspirators. Khuzami proposes "cooperation agreements" that could assure whistleblowers that they will receive leniency or exemption from SEC enforcement action, or legal assistance in the event of prosecution. Khuzami is also calling for changes in the law to protect whistleblowers and even to reward them financially. "Whistle-blower laws provide a powerful incentive for people to come forward," Stephen M. Kohn told LA Times reporter Kathy M. Kristof. Kohn is Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center. Kohn adds, "The U.S. government has collected billions and billions of dollars as the result of the False Claims Act." Khuzami’s call for a whistleblower reward recognizes what works. The reward provided by the False Claims Act (FCA) has recovered billions of dollars for U.S. taxpayers.
Kristof’s article notes that the success of Khuzami’s new proposal may hinge on what happens to the world’s most famous corporate and tax fraud whistleblower, Bradley Birkenfeld.