Legislation and legal provisions have shored up protection rights for whistleblowers with regard to job security and personal well being. Another important aspect to consider is eligibility. In order to confidently step forward with evidence, people must first be certain they are eligible to blow the whistle and be in a position to collect the resultant benefits.
Do you have to be U.S. citizen?
Thankfully, anyone with credible information on potential breaches of federal securities laws, company fraud or other violations is eligible to be a whistleblower. The person does not need to be a U.S. citizen. In fact, several international whistleblowers from nations such as the United Kingdom, China, and Nicaragua have received rewards for helping to unmask illicit schemes.
Do you have to be an employee of the company?
Statistics show that a large portion of whistleblowers are present or past employees of the businesses committing the wrongdoing. Other research shows that middle-tier staff and senior personnel are often the ones who expose those improprieties. But employment status and company affiliation are not precursors to whistleblowing. Being employed by an organization may offer insights into the criminal acts that may have occurred but being an employee is certainly not a requirement.
What kind of evidence is needed?
The person who reports a corporation’s unlawful practices does not have to witness the offense firsthand. Having knowledge is enough. However, after becoming aware of the misconduct, whistleblowers should do everything legally possible to maintain comprehensive and accurate records to support their allegations.
What is “original information”?
Whistleblower programs like the one established by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) state that “original information” is essential. They define it as information “derived from your independent knowledge…or independent analysis”. The key here is supplying valuable and unique information that cannot simply be obtained from a news outlet, an internet search, or public source.
Rewards and Stipulations
Money is given to the whistleblower as an incentive, not only for doing the right thing but for the time and effort put into bringing about justice. Like anything else, there is a structure to the process. Thus, several agencies have outlined conditions that must be followed for individuals to claim their rewards, for example, information must be presented in a particular format, include a particular form or be filed in a particular court.
Furthermore, there can be thresholds for obtaining these awards. Under the SEC program, penalties must be in excess of $1 million for the whistleblower to receive money. Whereas, the IRS program provides a sort of automatic entitlement to whistleblowers if the purported tax fraud exceeds $2 million.
Contacting An Experienced Attorney Can Help Determine Whistleblower Eligibility
The government has extended rights and rewards beyond the United States’ borders to ensure fraud does not go undetected. Naturally, not every whistleblower program deals with the same subject matter or specifies the same procedures. When deliberating on becoming a whistleblower, consulting a capable attorney is always beneficial. Eligibility is a prominent issue but so too is understanding the various statutes, and how they can impact the development of a whistleblower case.
To learn whether or not you may be eligible to blow the whistle on fraud, contact Newman & Shapiro today!