CFTC Whistleblower Awards

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Rewards Eligible Individuals Who Disclose Violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA)

Lynette Byrd
Attorney Lynette Byrd
CFTC Whistleblower Award Team Lead
Former DOJ Attorneyenvelope iconContact Lynette
Nick Oberheiden
Attorney Nick Oberheiden
CFTC Whistleblower Award Team Leadenvelope iconContact Nick
Tim Allen
Tim Allen
CFTC Whistleblower Award Team
Former Secret Service (Digital Forensics Expert)
Brian Kuester
Attorney Brian Kuester
CFTC Whistleblower Award Team
Former U.S. Attorney and District Attorneyenvelope iconContact Brian

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is responsible for ensuring compliance and transparency within the domestic commodity futures and options markets. Its primary source of enforcement authority is the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), which regulates all relevant trading activities and requires that all futures and options trade on organized exchanges.

To enforce the CEA, the CFTC relies heavily on whistleblowers to come forward with information that the Commission would otherwise be unable to obtain on its own. To incentivize whistleblowing, the CFTC protects whistleblowers’ identities and prohibits whistleblower retaliation—and it also compensates whistleblowers who assist with the pursuit of successful enforcement actions. If you have information that you believe may be useful to the CFTC and are interested in seeking a CFTC whistleblower award, we encourage you to speak with a whistleblower lawyer at Oberheiden P.C. promptly.

Reporting Corporate Misconduct and Seeking a CFTC Whistleblower Award

The CFTC accepts whistleblower complaints involving all forms of corporate fraud and misconduct related to the offer and sale of commodity futures and options. The CEA is extremely broad, and the breadth of its language allows the CFTC to pursue enforcement actions in a wide range of scenarios. In recent years, the CFTC has issued several Whistleblower Alerts highlighting priority enforcement areas. Some examples of areas that are of particular interest to the CFTC include:

  • Corrupt practices in the commodities and derivatives markets
  • Romance investment fraud in the commodities and derivatives markets
  • Spoofing in the commodities and derivatives markets
  • Insider trading and improper use of material non-public information (MNPI)
  • Anti-money laundering (AML) violations
  • Fraud and manipulation of carbon markets
  • Virtual currency fraud

Whistleblowers who disclose these and other forms of corporate fraud and misconduct to the CFTC can receive awards ranging from 10 to 30 percent of the amount the CFTC recovers in an ensuing law enforcement proceeding, provided that this amount exceeds $1 million. As a result, CFTC whistleblower awards can vary greatly. However, these awards tend to be fairly substantial, as the CFTC carefully chooses which cases to pursue based on the severity of the violations involved (among other factors). Some examples of recent CFTC whistleblower awards include:

  • More than $18 million awarded to a CFTC whistleblower on October 12, 2023
  • More than $300,000 awarded to a CFTC whistleblower on September 27, 2023
  • More than $15 million awarded to two CFTC whistleblowers on September 19, 2023
  • Approximately $625,000 awarded to four CFTC whistleblowers on March 25, 2022
  • Approximately $10 million awarded to a CFTC whistleblower on March 17, 2022
  • Approximately $1 million awarded to two CFTC whistleblowers on November 22, 2021
  • Nearly $200 million awarded to a CFTC whistleblower on October 15, 2021

Again, these are just examples. The CFTC established its Whistleblower Program following the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010; and, since that time, it has seen a consistent increase in both whistleblower complaints and whistleblower awards.

Under the CFTC’s Whistleblower Program, individuals seeking awards must follow stringent rules to establish their eligibility, and they must be prepared to assist with the CFTC’s investigative and enforcement efforts to maximize the percentage of their CFTC whistleblower awards. At Oberheiden P.C., we represent CFTC whistleblowers throughout the United States and around the world. If you are thinking about submitting a whistleblower complaint, we can explain everything you need to know, assist with preparing your whistleblower complaint, work with the CFTC on your behalf, and assist with collecting your whistleblower award if the CFTC’s enforcement efforts are successful.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden

Founder

Attorney-at-Law

Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney

Partner

Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Requirements and Process for Seeking a CFTC Whistleblower Award

Seeking a CFTC whistleblower award starts with properly submitting a complaint under the CFTC’s Whistleblower Program. As the CFTC explains, “[t]o be eligible for a whistleblower award, an individual (or group of individuals) must first submit a Form TCR – Tip, Complaint, or Referral.” As the CFTC goes on to explain, “[t]he Form TCR may be submitted electronically via the website, or by fax or mail.”

The CFTC’s Form TCR requires an extensive amount of information, and prospective whistleblowers must ensure that they complete the form correctly in order to preserve their eligibility for both the protections and compensation afforded to CFTC whistleblowers. For this reason, among others, working with experienced legal counsel is strongly recommended. Prospective whistleblowers must also sign Form TCR under penalty of perjury; and, if a whistleblower may be implicated in the fraud or other wrongdoing that is the subject of their complaint, the whistleblower must be very careful to ensure that submitting their complaint does not result in personal exposure to civil or criminal liability.

Additional requirements for submitting a whistleblower complaint to the CFTC and establishing eligibility for a CFTC whistleblower award include:

1. Providing Information to the CFTC “Voluntarily”

To be eligible for a CFTC whistleblower award, you must provide information to the CFTC voluntarily. This means that you must provide the information, “before the Commission sends you, your lawyer, or your employer a request, inquiry or demand for the information,” and before you receive, “a request, inquiry, or demand from Congress, another regulatory or enforcement agency or a self-regulatory organization.”

2. Submitting “Original Information” to the CFTC

Establishing eligibility for a CFTC whistleblower award also requires the submission of “original information.” As the CFTC explains: “‘Original information’ is information not already known to the Commission that is derived from (i) your independent knowledge (information in your possession that is not generally known or available to the public), or (ii) your independent analysis (your examination and evaluation of information that may be publicly available but which reveals information that is not generally known). Also, if the Commission received the same information previously from someone else, your information will not be considered original information unless you can show that you were the ‘original source’ of the information.”

3. Assisting with a Successful CFTC Enforcement Action

Finally, beyond submitting a formal complaint using Form TCR, you must also assist the CFTC with pursuing a successful enforcement action. The more assistance you provide, the greater the percentage of the CFTC’s recovery you are likely to receive if the Commission’s enforcement action is successful.

FAQs: Serving as a CFTC Whistleblower

How Do I Apply for a CFTC Whistleblower Award?

Seeking a CFTC whistleblower award is a multi-step process that starts with determining your eligibility to serve as a federal whistleblower. If you are eligible, you must submit the CFTC’s Form TCR, and then you must work with the CFTC as it investigates the information you have disclosed.

Can I Receive a CFTC Whistleblower Award if I File a Complaint Anonymously?

Yes, it is possible to receive a CFTC whistleblower award if you file a complaint anonymously. As the CFTC explains, you can do this “with or without a lawyer’s help”—although working with an experienced lawyer who can advise you and communicate with the CFTC on your behalf is strongly recommended. As the CFTC goes on to explain, “[b]ecause the Commission may need to contact you for more information, and because ongoing cooperation while the Commission is investigating a matter is a factor in determining any award amount, you should provide some means of contact . . . . [and] there are detailed requirements for making an award claim anonymously.”

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help Me File a Whistleblower Complaint and Seek a CFTC Whistleblower Award?

Due to the complexity of the process and the stakes involved, we strongly recommend engaging experienced legal counsel to assist you with filing a whistleblower complaint and seeking a CFTC whistleblower award. Our lawyers have extensive experience both representing whistleblowers and investigating and prosecuting corporate fraud on behalf of the federal government, and we provide no out-of-pocket cost legal representation for CFTC whistleblowers.

Am I Guaranteed an Award if I File a Whistleblower Complaint with the CFTC?

No, there are no guarantees when you file a whistleblower complaint with the CFTC. However, working with experienced legal counsel can help to maximize your chances of securing a CFTC whistleblower award. When you contact us, our lawyers will assess your likelihood of receiving an award, and then you can use these insights to make informed decisions about your next steps.

How Common Are CFTC Whistleblower Awards?

While CFTC whistleblower awards are not particularly common, they have become more common in recent years. As the volume of corporate fraud and misconduct continues to increase, the CFTC is becoming increasingly reliant on private citizens to come forward. Additionally, part of the reason why CFTC whistleblower awards are less common is that the CFTC’s Whistleblower Program is both relatively new and relatively unknown. If you are thinking about filing a complaint with the CFTC, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information.


Contact Us to Speak with an Experienced CFTC Whistleblower Lawyer in Confidence

If you would like more information about filing a whistleblower complaint with the CFTC and seeking a CFTC whistleblower award, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Oberheiden P.C. To speak with an experienced CFTC whistleblower in strict confidence as soon as possible, call 888-680-1745 or contact us confidentially online today.

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