The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) took its efforts to encourage voluntary self-disclosure a step further with the launch of a whistleblower pilot program for individuals involved in nonviolent offenses.
Through the program, announced Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, the SDNY is seeking information “regarding criminal conduct undertaken by or through public or private companies, exchanges, financial institutions, investment advisers, or investment funds involving fraud or corporate control failures or affecting market integrity or criminal conduct involving state or local bribery or fraud relating to federal, state, or local funds.”
The policy floats the potential for individuals to receive nonprosecution agreements for information they report to the SDNY under certain conditions. The agency specifically noted the government must not already be aware of the criminal conduct disclosed.
Other requirements, according to the policy, include the individual:
- Truthfully and completely disclosing all criminal conduct in which they were involved;
- Providing assistance to the SDNY in its investigation and any potential prosecutions arising from the information reported; and
- Not holding certain titles, including chief executive officer or chief financial officer of a public or private company.
The effort by the SDNY to encourage whistleblowing at an individual level follows the spirit of changes across the Department of Justice last year to incentivize companies to voluntarily self-disclose corporate misconduct before a government investigation. The policy change includes the opportunity for companies to avoid guilty pleas, earn reduced penalties, or not face a compliance monitorship.
“We encourage people who qualify for the whistleblower pilot program to take advantage of the opportunity to come clean, cooperate, and get on the right side of the law,” said Williams. “Our message to the world remains: Call us before we call you.”