New York law firm Meissner & Associates and two European law firms—Naegele and London-based Brahams Dutt Badrick French—have teamed up to launch a first-of-its-kind collaborative platform to help Europeans call out financial wrongdoing and benefit from U.S. whistleblower laws.
The three-way alliance is designed to help employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders of international companies who identify financial misconduct in European operations bring lawsuits and advance enforcement actions by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Eligible clients could include anyone working with a European or multinational company whose securities trade on U.S. exchanges, as well as American companies that do business in Europe.
Under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, individuals whose original information assists the SEC in bringing a successful enforcement proceeding are entitled to a bounty payment as high as 30% of any financial penalty of $1 million or more imposed on a company. To date, the SEC has granted more than $110 million in awards to whistleblowers in dozens of cases and has taken in more the $500 million in related fines. More large bounties are in the pipeline.
“While the SEC’s bounty program has yielded a large harvest of payments in the United States, most of those working for regulated companies in other countries have not taken advantage of the mechanism, even though most of the same rules apply for individuals working overseas, who have little or no protection for blowing the whistle,” said Stuart Meissner, a former securities regulator and prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the New York Attorney General, who is helping lead the collaboration.
Meissner recently represented a former financial executive of Monsanto, whose role in identifying audit lapses at the agribusiness giant led to a $22.5 million award this past August, the largest bounty paid to any U.S citizen to date.
Under the new alliance, the firms will advise clients on local legal issues stemming from their role as whistleblowers, including helping with challenges that may arise from their employers such as retaliatory action. Meissner will help clients navigate the arduous process of filing and pursuing cases with the SEC.