2016 was more than simply the most robust year in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement. It was also a record year in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whistleblower awards and additionally the year the SEC literally crashed through the $100 million mark for whistleblower awards under Dodd-Frank. It would therefore seem like a very propitious time for a well-rounded conference focusing solely on this issue. Fortunately for us in the compliance space, Financial Research Associates and Compliance Week have answered the call with the Whistleblowers & Compliance conference to be held in NYC on February 27, 2016. In this episode I visit with Conference Chair, Gregory Keating, on the upcoming event.

Best of all listeners to this podcast will receive a discount to the event. You can receive a 15% discount off the regular price by entering the Code CMP 161. For more information on the event, check out the website by clicking here.

2016 was more than simply the most robust year in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement. It was also a record year in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whistleblower awards and additionally the year the SEC literally crashed through the $100 million mark for whistleblower awards under Dodd-Frank. It would therefore seem like a very propitious time for a well-rounded conference focusing solely on this issue. Fortunately for us in the compliance space, Financial Research Associates and Compliance Week have answered the call with the Whistleblowers & Compliance conference to be held in NYC on February 27, 2016. Recently I was able to visit with Conference Chair, Gregory Keating, on the event.

Greg is the Chair of Choate Hall & Stewart LLP’s Labor Employment & Benefits and Whistleblower Defense Groups. In his practice has he three general areas. The first is compliance related and is everything from conducting training for organizations to auditing their existing practices, policies and procedures to assist employers to make sure that everything is setup correctly to insure a transparent environment. Second is in the area of investigations; including those focusing on  alleged wide-spread retaliation or wrongful conduct which whistleblowers bring to light. Third is litigation in the arena of whistleblower retaliation suits that are brought under a growing array of statutes, predominately Sarbanes–Oxley (SOX), Dodd-Frank, the False Claims Act, and others which prohibit against retaliation.

Keating is very excited about the conference. He noted there will be a marquee group of speakers who come from a number of different arenas. There will be government officials from some of the most prominent agencies who have agreed to speak. A group with an in-house perspective from some very prominent multi-national organizations who are wrestling with and analyzing how best to respond to this changing climate, who are going to weigh in and give their perspective. There will be some of the most prominent members of the defense bar, nationally and internationally, in this space. Last, but not least, there will be a number of extremely high profile plaintiff lawyers who practice either in Dodd-Frank or the plaintiff side of retaliation against whistleblowers.

The conference will kick-off with a deep dive into the whistleblower landscape, discussing its importance and why there is such deep water right now. It will canvas the expansion of whistleblower rights and remedies, focusing on recent court decisions that have come out and new legislation that continues to evolve. It will also look at what companies are doing specifically in response in this area.

I asked Keating if he might provide an example and he related that there has been a real proven attack on corporate agreements and policies which have the purpose or effect of muzzling whistleblowers. There have been, in the last year at least, almost half a dozen six figure civil money penalties imposed by  the SEC. The conference will provide some concrete guidance and advise from both the in-house and defense bar perspective on how to avoid that mine field. Additionally, there will be some concrete advice flowing from some very, very recent Department of Labor (DOL) recommended best practices around how to have an effective compliance program, where they focus on the importance in this day and age of training.

A hot topic to be discussed is the current whistleblower retaliation trial of former Bio-Rad General Counsel (GC) Sanford Wadley. The conference will use this trial to consider the rising tide of in-house counsel and compliance professionals as the whistleblower. Keating said that other hot topics that will likely be addressed include whether whistleblowers can take confidential information in direct violation of a confidentiality agreement and, nonetheless, proceed as a whistleblower and whether would-be whistleblowers could engage in other opposition which arguably is unreasonable and whether those whistleblower rights will trump otherwise legitimate company policies. Keating ended by stating “there is a lot in this space that is really sizzling now” and the conference agenda will reflect these very current topics.

The conference will feature government representatives from the SEC, the US Commodity Future Trading and the DOL. This is whistleblowing across the government spectrum and will allow the attendees to identify some of the issues which corporations across America are grappling with and provide some unique insights into how best to protect oneself in this rapidly changing climate.

No doubt to warm my heart as the nuts and bolts guy, there will be several panels dedicated to subjects such as how do you do compliance, including training; drafting and creating effective employment separation, settlement and confidentiality agreements, and in-house audits. Of course there will also be coverage of hotline triage and response, together with presentations on how set up a robust investigation protocol.

In short, if there is only one whistleblower conference you can attend, you should strongly consider this event. It will showcase regulators, the whistleblower defense bar, top corporate in-house compliance practitioner and GC types, and the plaintiff’s bar for whistleblower and retaliation cases. For any compliance practitioner, GC or lawyer, I think this will be a fabulous conference. I hope you will be able to attend.

Best of all readers of this blog will receive a discount to the event. You can receive a 15% discount off the regular price by entering the Code CMP 161. For more information on the event, check out the website by clicking here.

In this episode, Matt Kelly and I take a deep dive into a couple of issues surrounding the new Trump administration. The first is the ‘Trump Risk’ disclosure that several companies have made since the election. The second is around Dodd-Frank and the SEC going forward. When Trump speaks about repealing Dodd-Frank, it means easing rules for capital formation, not the whistleblower program or other more traditional compliance related roles and issues. We discuss Paul Adkins, who is heading up the Trump transition at the SEC and what his prior tenure at the SEC may portend. Finally we discuss why the SEC whistleblower program is not going away but there may be a change in focus from the current aggressive approach under Chairman Mary Jo White.  We wave good-bye to Kevin O’Connor who was in then out on the Trump DOJ transition team. For more reading see Matt’s blog posts:

1.Compliance in the Trump Era, Part I: The SEC

2. It’s Starting: Disclosure of ‘Trump Risk’

Show Notes for Episode 21, week ending September 9, 2016

  1. Star Trek and its influence on compliance, click here;
  2. SEC Press Release on whistleblower bounty payments;
  3. Cisco Systems received declinations from SEC & DOJ, as reported in the FCPA Blog;
  4. WSJ article Out of the SEC, Into the Whistleblower Industrial Complex
  5. NYT article Whistle-Blowing Insiders: ‘Game Changer’ for the S.E.C.
  6. GHBER registration for Sept. 15 panel on new ways to integrate the compliance function with the business while continuing to provide robust protection to the organization, click here.
  7. Red Flag Group registration for webinar on Gathering materials from your suppliers to better understand their business practices, click here.

 

 

 

This Week in FCPA-Episode 19, the International Edition

Show Notes for Week ending August 26, 2016

  1. John Kerry: Corruption is ‘root cause’ of terrorism, on FCPA Blog.
  2. Eric Ben-Artzi Op-Ed piece on why he turn down his whistleblower award, as featured in the Financial Times.
  3. Lessons from History-the Tudors on compliance, from the FCPA Compliance Report.
  4. FedEx trial debacle for the DOJ, and Paul Pelletier’s recommendation to fix recent spate of ill-fated and advised DOJ prosecutions, as featured in the FCPA Blog.
  5. Hallmarks 1-5 of the Ten Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program, as featured in the FCPA Compliance Report.