A bill that proposes to create a whistleblower program for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has been reintroduced to the House.
The PCAOB Whistleblower Bill of 2022 (H.R.7245), introduced Monday by Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), is identical to a bill (H.R.3625) that was passed by the House in 2019 but never acted upon in the Senate.
The bill “strengthens the transparency of our nation’s public markets by protecting whistleblowers who have reliable information for law enforcement,” Garcia said Tuesday in a press release. “This bill is a necessary first step in protecting the integrity of public companies and markets.”
Under the bill, whistleblowers could get up to 30 percent of fines collected from a disciplinary proceeding if the total fines are greater than $250,000, according to the Congressional Budget Office in 2019. The measure also would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report potential violations of public company accounting laws or regulations to their supervisors or to the oversight board.
Supporters of the bill in its first iteration included the National Whistleblower Center, the Institute of Internal Auditors, and Public Citizen. The reintroduced bill has five co-sponsors, all House Democrats.
The PCAOB program would be similar to the one already in place at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which announced in fiscal year 2021 the award of more than $1 billion total to whistleblowers since its first payout was issued in 2012.
Some lawmakers have questioned why a whistleblower program at the PCAOB would even be necessary, given whistleblowers could bring their evidence of wrongdoing at publicly traded companies to the SEC.