Wall Street Fights New Whistleblower Law

Wall Street
Wall Street

With new whistleblower rules coming to Wall Street, the industry's lobbyists have mounted a furious behind-the-scenes effort to constrain the reach of the new protections.

On December 17, the Business Roundtable, an organization of some of the country's most important CEOs, sent a letter to the SEC complaining that the new whistleblower rules will undermine companies' own compliance efforts.

The Business Roundtable laid out the key principles it would like to see in the new SEC rules. Those included:

  • Require whistleblowers to report internally before going to the SEC
  • Companies should be given 180 days to conduct an internal review
  • Companies should be allowed to require internal reporting as part of the compliance programs
  • No award over 10 percent will be given if the whistleblower did not report internally
  • Compliance personnel should not be allowed to become whistleblowers
  • People who committed fraud should not be eligible for awards

But Eric Havian, a lawyer who represents whistleblowers, thinks the internal reporting argument is bogus. "This is—this is the new corporate line to kill the SEC whistleblower law. And it's absolutely baseless."

Former Senator Chris Dodd, co-authored the law, and says he’s convinced that the whistleblower rules will stop the next Bernard Madoff.

"Having whistleblowers, both outside and inside, rewarding those who identify these areas, I think will do a great deal to minimize the kind of frauds that will occur from growing so large that by the time we discover them too many people have been hurt,” he said.

In April, the SEC will publish its new rules governing the whistleblower program, and it may be the first time the most sophisticated insiders on the street feel comfortable coming forward with what they know.

But already the SEC says it’s seeing a dramatic uptick in reported frauds.

The employees there who handle incoming complaints say they used get a “couple dozen” high quality tips a year. But since Dodd-Frank passed, they say, they’re getting “one or two high-quality tips a day.”

Watch the final reports from Eamon Javers' special series,"Bounty Hunters," Friday, February 11 on "Squawk Box" and "Squawk On The Street."