Five Themes for General Counsel to Monitor with Respect to Dodd-Frank Whistleblowers and the FCPA

It’s late at night and General Counsel is giving the deck for the next morning’s Audit Committee presentation one final read through.  The subject of the presentation is a succinct yet thorough post-mortem report distilling the key findings from a wide-ranging internal investigation into irregularities relating to a major contract award in one of the company’s most challenging foreign markets.  There is sufficient evidence of questionable conduct to merit real concern under the FCPA and General Counsel, with Outside Counsel by her side, must make a recommendation to the Audit Committee as to whether the company should make a voluntary disclosure to U.S. authorities.  Flipping through the slides, General Counsel remarks to herself how familiar the facts have become, particularly the unattractive ones.  She is also well versed in the factors weighing on the pro and con side of disclosure.  But one wildcard prevents General Counsel from putting the presentation down and getting some much-needed rest: is there a whistleblower who has already informed the government?  If so, the company’s calculus is dramatically different.  But General Counsel just doesn’t know and that is one answer that Outside Counsel does not have for her.  Whistleblowers have long been a hot topic for corporate counsel.  They have become an even hotter topic since Congress passed Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank), which amended the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to add new Section 21F, “Securities Whistleblower Incentives and Protection.”  In a guest article, F. Joseph Warin, chair of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s Washington, D.C. Litigation Department and co-chair of the Firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice Group, along with John W.F. Chesley, a litigation associate at Gibson Dunn, provide a brief primer on the regulatory framework governing whistleblower awards under Dodd-Frank; explore early developments in Dodd-Frank whistleblower litigation, with a particular focus on two important cases predicated upon alleged violations of the FCPA; and list some of the key issues that they see as emerging or that they expect to emerge in the near future.

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