Listening To Michael Douglas Could Mean Missing Out On A Reward

If money is your motivation in reporting insider trading, some experts are saying don’t go right to the FBI, even if Michael Douglas urges you to. The actor appears in a recent FBI public service announcement referencing his character from Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, targeting financial fraud.

“Our economy is increasingly dependent on the success and the integrity of the financial markets. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is,” he says in the spot, asking tipsters to contact their local FBI office.

But the Washington Post cites a whistleblower lawyer, who says you could miss out on cash rewards that way.

“If they just go to the FBI, they are probably going to get zero,” he explained. “The FBI’s not obligated to do anything for them.”

Instead, he says, if you find yourself in the position of an informant who wants money and not just to do the right thing, consult a lawyer and file a whistleblower claim with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tipsters are entitled to 10% to 30% of any money the SEC collects if your info leads to any sanctions of more than $1 million.

“I’m not aware of any program of that sort within the FBI,” FBI spokesman William Carter said, while another agent said he just hopes tipsters are moved to report financial fraud without a reward.

“I’d like to see people be patriotic and just do the right thing instead of being motivated by money,” he said.

Michael Douglas’s advice in FBI ad could deny Wall Street tipsters cash reward [Washington Post]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    “I’d like to see people be patriotic and just do the right thing instead of being motivated by money,”


    • Eremis77 says:

      Here’s an idea, why not be motivated by both? Nobody is either 100% patriotic or 100% greedy.

    • Bill610 says:

      And that is why FBI spokesman William Carter doesn’t draw a paycheck, motivated solely by his patriotism.

      At least in my imagination.

    • Bob says:

      Can we just use sheer patriotism, with no payment, to feed, clothes, and house us? I didn’t think so.

      Once a whistle-blower starts whistle blowing their job is about forfeit at that point. They will mysteriously be laid-off due to “the economy” and will struggle finding decent paying work.

  2. clippy2.0 says:

    I’ll feel patriotic and do the right thing without money as a motivation when my patriotic taxes suddenly stop revealing themselves on my paystubs

  3. Scuba Steve says:

    Didn’t the last guy to go to the SEC as a whistleblower get 10 years in prison instead of a reward?

    So I guess you’ll get screwed regardless of which place you go to.

    • Marlin says:

      He broke the law and also filed a false tax return. Just because you turn others in does not clear you of your crimes.

    • Bob Lu says:

      (Too lazy. Didn’t read the linked article.) He didn’t even get a deal?

  4. FatLynn says:

    The thing is, being a whistleblower can have a negative effect on your career. Yes, I realize that there are protection laws, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t still be on shaky ground with your employer and others in the same industry.

    So, if someone is going to put their own earning power in jeopardy, I understand why they would want a reward.

    • Yomiko says:

      Yeah, studies have shown that even people protected by whistleblower statutes tend to experience negative effects like having trouble advancing in their company or finding a new position. Sometimes it’s even hard to qualify for protection. It stinks, but there hasn’t been a good solution developed yet.

      There’re a great article you can read Be Prepared Before You Blow the Whistle from the Sept/Oct 2010 issue of Fraud magazine.

  5. Hi_Hello says:

    Do the FBI get the 10% from SEC?

  6. RedOryx says:

    But isn’t being motivated by money the American way? So, really, they are being patriotic.

  7. Bob Lu says:

    “I’d like to see people be patriotic and just do the right thing”

    So how is contacting SEC less patriotic and right compare with contacting FBI?

  8. Alan says:

    At the position I am in now, I have caught a few bits that are obvious tax fraud, Unfortunately, none of it would be worth over 1 million so it wouldn’t be worth turning it in.

  9. Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

    I appreciate whistleblowers blowing whistles on the greedy who are greedy themselves.

    Ain’t no shame, son, bills got to get paid!

  10. smo0 says:

    Wow, I know nothing about this shit and ever *I* know you’re supposed to report it to the S.E.C.