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SEC Whistleblower Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Whistleblower protection

On September 29, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced that casino-gaming company International Game Technology (“IGT”) agreed to pay a $500,000 penalty for firing an employee who reported to senior management and the SEC that the company’s financial statements might be distorted.

The whistleblower retaliation case is the second of its kind since the Dodd-Frank Act authorized the agency to bring retaliation charges.  According to the SEC order, the employee had been a director of an IGT division since 2008 and received positive performance reviews throughout his time with the company and never received any sort of discipline or corrective action.

The whistleblower received a favorable evaluation in the 2014 mid-year review and was deemed an employee on the rise, according to the order.  Shortly after that review, the whistleblower raised concerns to his managers, to the company’s internal complaint hotline, and to the SEC that IGT’s publicly-reported financial statements may have been misstated.  Approximately three months after the whistleblower raised his concerns, according to the order, IGT terminated him.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced on September 28, 2016 that Anheuser-Busch InBev agreed to pay $6 million to settle charges that the company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and attempted to silence a whistleblower who reported the misconduct.

An SEC investigation found that the company used third-party sales promoters to make improper payments to government officials in India to increase the sales and production the company’s products in India.  According to the SEC order, Anheuser-Busch InBev repeatedly ignored employee complaints, had inadequate internal accounting controls to detect and prevent the improper payments, and failed to ensure that transactions involving the promoters were recorded properly in its books and records.

Additionally, according to the order, the SEC found that Anheuser-Busch InBev entered into a separation agreement that stopped an employee from continuing to voluntarily communicate with the SEC about the potential FCPA violations due to a substantial financial penalty that would be imposed for violating strict non-disclosure terms.

Atlanta-based building products distributor BlueLinx Inc. is settling charges that it violated an important whistleblower protection rule by using severance agreements that required departing employees to waive their rights to monetary recovery should they file a charge or complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or other federal agencies.

BlueLinx has agreed to pay a $265,000 penalty per the SEC’s order.

According to the SEC’s order, BlueLinx’s restrictive provisions were an attempt to bar employees from filing charges against the company and to keep their mouths shut if the company ever committed any securities law violations.  The restrictive language in the agreements essentially forced employees leaving the company to waive possible whistleblower awards or risk losing their severance payments and other post-employment benefits.

save-the-qeen-1244290The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has taken the side of the whistleblower in a dispute against mutual fund giant Vanguard Group.

The SEC filed a brief on March 28, 2016 in support of David Danon, a former lawyer at the Pennsylvania-based money manager who said Vanguard terminated him because he raised concerns about some of the firm’s tax practices.  Danon filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Vanguard in late 2015.

The Dodd-Frank Act entices “whistleblowers” to come forth and help the SEC identify possible fraud and other violations much earlier than might have been possible, consequently reducing harm to investors, preserving the integrity of U.S. capital markets, and swiftly holding perpetrators of unlawful conduct accountable, according to the SEC Office of the Whistleblower website.

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