White Collar

Whistleblowing and Compliance

By: Lucosky Brookman
Whistleblowing and Compliance


This article delves into the intricacies of the SEC's whistleblower program, its ramifications for corporate entities, and the hurdles that compliance frameworks are currently grappling with.

The Whistleblower Program: A Pillar of SEC Enforcement

The whistleblower initiative has witnessed exponential growth in both the volume of tips submitted and the financial rewards distributed to informants in recent years. This program has metamorphosed into a cornerstone of the SEC's regulatory enforcement, with dedicated personnel liaising with informants to facilitate successful legal actions.

Key Observations

Surge in Whistleblower Tips

The SEC was inundated with over 12,000 whistleblower tips in 2022, surpassing its previous record set in 2021. This uptick in submissions coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting questions about the efficacy of internal reporting mechanisms in a remote work setting.

Financial Repercussions for Corporations

Over the program's 12-year lifespan, corporate entities and individuals have incurred penalties exceeding $6.3 billion based on whistleblower disclosures. This underscores the necessity for robust compliance systems capable of effectively scrutinizing and acting upon internal complaints.

Expansion in Whistleblower Obstruction Cases

The SEC's regulations forbid any conduct that deters individuals from reporting potential securities law violations. While 16 cases have been initiated against companies for using restrictive clauses in severance contracts, this domain is witnessing expansion.

Preference for Internal Reporting Channels

Employees generally opt to utilize their organization's internal reporting frameworks, which can deter them from approaching regulatory bodies if their grievances are satisfactorily resolved.

Middle Management's Role

A prevalent issue is the failure of middle management to adequately recognize and manage whistleblower complaints, compelling employees to seek external channels for redressal.

Guidelines for Managers

Providing easily digestible and accessible reporting guidelines can empower managerial staff to adeptly handle whistleblowing scenarios within the corporate structure.

Compliance Challenges in the New Normal

In an era where remote and hybrid work models are becoming ubiquitous, compliance professionals are compelled to reevaluate their strategies to ensure they continue to foster internal reporting and uphold a strong organizational ethos.

The Imperative of Transparency

Norberg accentuated the criticality of cultivating a corporate culture that incentivizes employees to voice their concerns and potential ethical lapses. She also emphasized the importance of organizations reassessing their internal frameworks to promote open dialogue and uphold a top-down culture of transparency.

Proactivity is Key

In the current climate of aggressive regulatory enforcement, it is incumbent upon companies to be proactive and implement effective mechanisms to swiftly identify, investigate, and rectify any potential misconduct before it reaches the SEC's radar.


Organizations need to proactively adapt their strategies to foster a culture of transparency. As workplaces continue to evolve, it is crucial for companies to stay ahead of the curve in compliance and whistleblowing matters.