This page contains trending topics and things to know from the Whistleblower Office.
Submitting a Tip
- Fill out a Form TCR. Even if you believe you have already provided information to the CFTC – whether by filing a complaint with the Division of Enforcement, providing information to another regulator, or through another means – you must still fill out a whistleblower Form Tip, Complaint, or Referral (Form TCR) in order to be eligible for a whistleblower award. For more information, please review Rule 165.3.
- Provide information related to the markets, products, or participants overseen by the CFTC. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is an independent U.S. government agency that regulates the U.S. derivatives markets, including futures, options, and swaps. To learn more about the types of information that may be of interest to the CFTC, you can read about the Division of Enforcement and review press releases related to recent Commission enforcement actions.
- Be specific, credible, and timely with your Form TCR. Only tips that lead to successful enforcement actions resulting in more than $1 million in monetary sanctions are eligible for awards. But you can increase the chances that your information will lead to a successful enforcement action – and an award – if you keep three things in mind.
1. The more specific the information is, the easier it is for the Commission to follow the lead in opening an investigation or pursuing a new line of inquiry.
2. The more credible the information is, the more likely it is that the Commission will pursue it.
3. The more timely the information, the better able the Commission is to discover any misconduct and put a stop to it before further damage can be done to markets and innocent participants. If you delay in submitting your information, other sources may cause the Commission to open an examination or investigation, making you ineligible for an award, or reducing any award if you are found to have unreasonably delayed in reporting your information to the Commission.
- Make sure to complete the Form TCR correctly. To increase the chance that your information will lead to a successful enforcement action – and an award – be sure to fill out the Form TCR correctly and as completely as possible. The name of the individual or entity you are complaining about belongs as your response to question C.3, "Tell Us Who You Are Complaining About". If you are unsure of the name of the individual or entity, you may respond with "Unknown." If the Form TCR is not correctly filled out or incomplete, it may be difficult for the Commission to pursue the matter.
- You may submit attachments to your Form TCR. You can provide documents related to a tip by submitting attachments you think are relevant along with your Form TCR. For instance, if you believe you have witnessed manipulative or disruptive trading, helpful attachments would include screen shots of the suspicious trading activity. You can upload such files electronically with your Form TCR through the CFTC Portal, which is encrypted throughout transmission and processing.
- You may supplement your submission. If you believe you may be able to obtain, or you have obtained, additional facts or other information supporting the legitimacy of your tip but are worried about waiting too long and losing "original source" status, under Rule 165.2(1) and 165.5(b) you are free to submit supplemental information via mail, fax, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org at a later date. In that supplemental submission, be sure to reference your original Form TCR confirmation number.
- If you have already provided information to another authority and want to be given whistleblower status, you must provide the CFTC Whistleblower Office with that same information. If you would like to get credit for information you already provided to another authority, such as the Department of Justice (please consult Whistleblower Rule 165.2(l) for the complete list of entities), you must also provide that same information directly to the Commission via Form TCR and disclose the date on which you reported to the other authority.
It is imperative that you come directly to the CFTC after reporting to the other authority. Do not assume that the other authority will pass on the information you provided, in part or in whole, to the Commission. If you report to the Commission within 180 days of reporting to the other authority, you will be able to claim the date of your reporting to the other authority as the date of submission to the CFTC.
This ability to protect your place in line is particularly important when there are multiple whistleblowers with competing award claims in the award determination. For example, assume that on January 1 you provided a tip to the Department of Justice (DOJ) but did not give any information to the CFTC. On February 1, another whistleblower gave the CFTC information that is similar to the information you already provided to the DOJ. On March 1, you finally gave information directly to the CFTC by filing a Form TCR. By making this submission to the CFTC on March 1, which is within 180 days of January 1, you can now claim January 1 as your submission date for award determination purposes. This means when the Commission is evaluating who reported to the Commission first, you will be ahead of the whistleblower who reported to the CFTC on February 1.
- Internal reporting. You do not have to report internally to be eligible for a whistleblower award. If you choose to report to your employer through its internal process, your information will be deemed to be submitted to the CFTC on the date you reported it internally, as long as you also report it to the Commission no more than 180 days later. Reporting internally before reporting to the CFTC may increase the percentage of your whistleblower award.
1. The Commission may increase any award percentage based on your participation in your company's internal compliance systems by reporting information internally.
2. The Commission may also increase any award percentage based on the degree of assistance you provide to your company's internal investigation.
3. If the company undertakes an investigation and reports the results to the CFTC, the Commission may give you some credit for helping uncover the information and getting it to the CFTC.
You should consult a lawyer if you have questions about how best to handle the information in your possession.
Claiming an Award
- Apply for a whistleblower award at the appropriate time. If you filed a Form TCR, in order to be considered for an award, you must also file a Form WB-APP. To apply for an award, you will have to file a Form WB-APP at the appropriate time. Per Rule 165.7, you have 90 days from the date of posting of a Notice of Covered Action in a CFTC action, or a final judgment in a related action. To learn more about the award application process, please review Rule 165.7. You can find a Form WB-APP and information on deadlines for filing award applications on the Whistleblower Program website, along with a subscription form to receive electronic notification of new Notices of Covered Actions.
- Do not forget that you may be eligible for awards on Covered Actions, Related Actions, or both. Even if you are not eligible for an award on a CFTC Covered Action, you may still be eligible for an award on a Related Action, as long as you provided information that led the Commission to obtain a settlement or judgment. In order to receive an award on a Covered Action, your tip must have led the Commission to obtain a settlement or judgment resulting in sanctions exceeding $1,000,000. If the Commission action results in sanctions in a lower amount, that would not be a "Covered Action", and you would not be eligible for an award based on those sanctions. However, as long as your tip led the Commission to obtain some settlement or judgment, you may be eligible for an award on a Related Action. In addition, unlike a Covered Action, a Related Action does not need to result in sanctions exceeding $1,000,000. Please remember that if your information did not help the Commission at all, then you will not be eligible for an award on a Related Action. While the Commission will post notices regarding Covered Actions on the website, you must monitor Related Actions on your own.
- You may receive an award even if sanctions cannot be collected entirely. Even if you have doubts about the Commission's ability to collect sanctions, particularly in cases involving foreign defendants, you should still submit a Form TCR and Form WB-APP. You are still eligible for a pro rata payout, even if the Commission is unable to collect immediately on the full amount of sanctions imposed.
For example, assume the Commission granted you a 30% award on an enforcement action that imposed $10 million in sanctions. If the Commission collects all $10 million, then you will receive $3 million in payout (30% of $10 million), the full amount of award granted to you. However, if the Commission is only able to collect $9 million, you will still receive $2.7 million in payout (30% of $9 million). If at a later point in time the Commission is able to collect the remaining $1 million (for example, a bankrupt defendant won the lottery and paid up), then you will be entitled to 30% of this additional collected amount, meaning you will receive another payment equal to $300,000 (30% of $1 million).
Other Contact with the Whistleblower Office
- Make sure we can contact you. Whether or not you provide your name with your submission the CFTC is committed to protecting your identity. But, because we may need to contact you for more information while the CFTC is investigating a matter, you should provide some means of contact such as an email address or telephone number. There are detailed requirements for making an award claim anonymously set out in the Whistleblower Rules, but if you have any questions about filing anonymously, the Commission strongly encourages you to contact the Whistleblower Office by sending an email to email@example.com or calling the Whistleblower Hotline (1-866-873-5675) before you file. Also be sure to inform the Whistleblower Office if your contact information has changed after you submitted your tip.
- Keep in mind what the Whistleblower Office can and cannot tell you. If you call the Whistleblower Hotline (1-866-873-5675) or send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), staff from the Whistleblower Office will answer any procedural questions you have regarding the Whistleblower Program but cannot give any legal advice. Also, because all CFTC investigations are confidential and nonpublic, the staff is prohibited from revealing any information about CFTC investigations, including confirming or denying the existence of an investigation. However, if the CFTC Division of Enforcement opened an investigation based on your tip, you will very likely hear from the investigative staff. Likewise, we will not provide you with updates on the status of your award claim; we will contact you in the event we need any additional information to assess your award application or eligibility for an award.
- Join our mailing list. Sign up for the CFTC's and Whistleblower Program's Email Subscription Service to receive information updates, including Notices of Covered Actions (NCAs) that may be related to your submission. You must file a Form WB-APP to be considered for an award for any Covered Action, so receiving updates about NCAs automatically will help you know whether and when to file.
- If you are represented by counsel, we cannot communicate with you directly. We will not respond to phone calls or emails from you if you are represented by counsel. We will instead contact your attorney. If you have any questions or concerns for the Whistleblower Office, please ask your attorney to contact us.
- In order to protect your identity, all emails you receive from us are sent via secure message. You must follow the instructions in the email and create a password to access the content. You can use the same password to access all future emails from the Whistleblower Office. Please contact us if you forget your password or have trouble accessing the email.
*These "Things To Know" tips represent the views of the staff of the CFTC's Whistleblower Office. They are not CFTC rules or regulations, and the Commission has neither approved nor disapproved them. These tips are meant to serve only as a guide in how to navigate the CFTC Whistleblower Program and do not purport to be complete or comprehensive. For detailed information about the program, please read Section 23 of the Commodity Exchange Act (7 U.S.C. § 26) and the Whistleblower Rules (17 C.F.R. § 165).