The SEC offers a huge carrot to encourage whistle-blowers
"TOO many people remain silent in the face of fraud," says Mary Schapiro, the chairman of America's Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). On May 25th she announced new rules to encourage corporate whistle-blowing. Inducements will include cash: 10-30% of fines of over $1m that result from tip-offs. The US Chamber of Commerce, a business lobby, calls it a "bounty programme" that will reward "amateur sleuths in search of a big payday". It isthreatening legal action to block it.
The new rules were required by the Dodd-Frank act, Congress's response to the financial crisis, which was passed last year. They follow an earlier effort to encourage employees to speak up. After Enron, an energy firm, collapsed in a flurry of fraud, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley act in 2002 which, among other things, protected whistle-blowers from retaliation.
国会为应对金融危机在去年通过了多德佛兰克金融改革法案(Dodd-Frank act)，这些新规定是应该法案的要求制定的。同时也延续了早就开始的鼓励公司员工站出来举报的做法。在能源公司安然(Enron)在连串的欺诈案件中轰然倒下之后，国会采取的善后措施中就包括通过了萨班-奥克利法案(Sarbanes-Oxley act)保护举报人免遭报复。
Employees have never found it easy to squeal on employers. Perhaps the most celebrated ofcorporate whistle-blowers, Sherron Watkins, a former executive at Enron, never went public with her prediction that the company might be brought down by fraud. She reported her concerns internally, and was ignored.
When the SEC released draft rules in November, businesses fretted that the financial rewards would prompt insiders to go straight to the commission, bypassing their firms' internalprocedures—especially since that would reduce the risk of being victimised by the boss or branded a "disgruntled employee". The new rules try to correct this, for example by allowing areward to be paid in some circumstances to whistle-blowers who only grumble internally.
The chance of making a fortune may encourage speculative whistle-blowing in the hope of winning the lottery. Ms Schapiro's new Office of the Whistleblower may be deluged with useless tips. But even that might be better than the status quo.