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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Topic: Securities and Commodities Fraud

What is a securities or commodities whistleblower case?

Under the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a private person may provide information to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding violations of federal securities laws.  If the information results in a successful judicial or administrative action by the SEC, then the individual that brought the violations to the SEC’s attention is entitled to a share of the monetary penalties or sanctions recovered by the Government, as long as the Government’s total recovery exceeds $1,000,000.  The securities whistleblower’s share of the recovery may range from between 10% and 30%.  The Government keeps the rest of the money. The Dodd-Frank Act similarly allows a private individual to provide information to the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regarding fraud in connection with the sale of commodities.  The whistleblower is likewise entitled to a 10% to 30% share of any monetary penalties or sanctions recovered by the CFTC as a result of the information, provided that the recovery exceeds $1,000,000.

What is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act?

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) makes it unlawful for a company to bribe foreign officials in order to retain business or direct business to a certain person.  The FCPA also requires companies whose securities are listed in the United States to satisfy certain accounting requirements.  The FCPA is enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice. A securities whistleblower who provides information regarding violations of the FCPA to the SEC may be entitled to a 10% to 30% share of any monetary penalties or sanctions recovered by the SEC as a result of this information, as long as the SEC’s total recovery exceeds $1,000,000.

How do I file a securities or commodities fraud whistleblower claim?

Securities fraud whistleblower cases are initiated by filing a Form TCR with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Whistleblower.  Commodities fraud whistleblower cases are initiated by filing a Form TCR with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission’s Whistleblower Office.  In either case, the Form TCR should be accompanied by a detailed description of the securities or commodities fraud and include factual evidence and documentation of the alleged misconduct.

Is my securities or commodities fraud whistleblower claim confidential?

Yes.  The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission are required to keep information they receive from a securities whistleblower confidential.  However, if a public proceeding is initiated based on the information provided by the securities whistleblower, then the whistleblower’s identity may become public.

Do I need to hire an attorney to file a securities or commodities fraud whistleblower claim?

No.  But a whistleblower does have the option to file his or her claim anonymously.  In order to file a claim anonymously, the securities whistleblower must be represented by counsel.

I don’t have enough money to pay for an attorney to represent me in my securities or commodities fraud case. How can I get legal help?

Securities and commodities fraud whistleblowing cases can take hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of hours of attorney time. If you had to pay the attorneys on an hourly basis, the fees would become prohibitive to most potential securities whistleblowers.  But many attorneys who handle whistleblower cases, such as the attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP, are willing to do so for a "contingency fee."  This means that the attorneys do not charge by the hour for their time.  Instead, they agree to accept a percentage of your recovery as their fee, and they take on the risk that, if you do not obtain any recovery, they will not be paid.  Different attorneys may be willing to offer different terms. If you are seriously considering a securities or commodities fraud case, you may wish to contact a number of different law firms, and find one that you believe will do excellent work and that will offer you favorable contingency-fee terms.

To bring a securities or commodities case, do I need to hire an attorney with an office near where I live or work?

No.  Finding an attorney that you believe will effectively and aggressively represent your interests is much more important than finding one that is local.  Qui Tam attorneys who handle securities and commodities fraud cases routinely work on cases around the country, and not just in the city or state where they have offices. Moreover, securities and commodities fraud whistleblower cases under the Dodd-Frank Act are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission in Washington, D.C.  It may be beneficial to retain attorneys, such as the attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP, that have offices in Washington, D.C.  Accordingly, in searching for representation, you should not necessarily limit yourself to attorneys who happen to have offices close to where you work or live.  The whistleblower lawyers at Tycko & Zavareei LLP routinely represent whistleblowers in cases throughout the United States.  For more on how to choose an attorney to represent you in a securities or commodities fraud case, see our page on Selecting An Attorney.