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LANDMARK LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST SEC TO PROTECT ALL WHISTLEBLOWERS

Roundtable Discussion on Whistleblowing Featuring Jordan Thomas

On May 28, 2021, Jordan Thomas was a featured panelist on a webinar presented by the Canada-based Anti-Corruption Law Program (“ACLP”).*

The webinar was conducted in a roundtable discussion-format and had an international
panel of heavy-hitters on the subject of whistleblowing from the worlds of business and law.** Jordan’s contributions – primarily coming at the beginning of the webinar – nonetheless stood out. Jordan discussed, e.g., the development of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) whistleblower program, the dire statistics reflecting its importance, and Jordan’s own efforts to support adoption of similar programs in other locales (Australia, the U.K., Canadian provinces beyond Ontario, etc.).

A range of additional whistleblower topics were also discussed, such as:

A history of whistleblower programs/regimes;

  • Qui tam / False Claims Act,
  • South Korea’s 50+ years of protection to whistleblowers regarding tax crimes.

The diversity of modern whistleblower programs, focusing on U.S. and Canada;

  • The Securities & Exchange Commission, Office of the Whistleblower,
  • Ontario Securities Commission Whistleblower Program,
  • IRS Whistleblower Office,
  • CFTC’s Whistleblower Program,
  • The Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, 49 U.S.C. § 30172,
  • U.S. Treasury’s new AML whistleblower program, implemented by FinCen.

Performance / viability of whistleblower programs;

  • The SEC’s is the “gold standard,”
  • Success metrics,
  • Importance of culture, legal framework and program structures, both of regulators and of companies operating in compliance;
    • Customizable programs,
    • External reporting is reduced by involving company Boards of Directors / recognition of whistleblower concerns,
    • The Charbonneau Commission,
    • Overcoming negative perceptions (money-grab, revenge motive, “snitching” or “dobbing”).

Current hot topics in whistleblowing;

  • ESG reporting,
  • “Greenwashing.”

Developments addressing risk of employer retaliation;

  • SEC enforcement actions,
  • The European Parliament and European Council’s Whistleblower Protection Directive.

Despite the panelists’ varied backgrounds and views on discrete topics, there was broad consensus that – when it comes to detecting wrongdoing – whistleblowers are singularly the most effective resource that we have.

* As reflected on its website, the ACLP is a collaborative effort involving Transparency International Canada (“TIC”) and factions/affiliates of the University of British Columbia (“UBC”).

** The additional panelists included Emmy Babalola (moderator), Anca Sattler, Sandy Boucher, Mary Inman, Michael Scott and Paul Townsend. Joseph Weiler, co-director of the ACLP and Professor Emeritus at Allard School of Law, UBC, delivered opening remarks. Closing remarks were delivered by James Cohen, executive director of TIC.

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