How Can Hedge Fund Managers Mitigate the Reputational Harm of Whistleblower Complaints?

Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act states that where a whistleblower provides “original information” to the SEC that leads to an enforcement action in which the SEC obtains a monetary sanction totaling at least $1 million, the SEC “shall pay an award” to the whistleblower of between 10 and 30 percent of the monetary sanctions imposed in the SEC enforcement action and certain related actions.  See “Can Hedge Fund Managers Use Whistleblower Hotlines to Help Create and Demonstrate a Culture of Compliance?,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 3, No. 29 (Jul. 23, 2010).  The Dodd-Frank whistleblower provision has the hedge fund industry scared for at least seven reasons, each of which is described in this article.  In short, the Dodd-Frank whistleblower provision has created a new category of exposure for all hedge fund managers, even those with long and laudable track records.  Accordingly, the Hedge Fund Law Report has been talking to a variety of hedge fund industry participants about how to mitigate the potential reputational and other harm that can be caused by whistleblower complaints.  This is an ongoing topic for the industry, and one that we plan to cover continuously: as we obtain new insights, we will share them with you.  The intent of this article is to outline some current thoughts based on conversations with insightful sources, including ideas relating to employment agreements, compliance policies and procedures and exit interviews.

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