U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco recently announced the Department of Justice (DOJ) is launching a new whistleblower monetary rewards program later this year and she expects it to drive investment in internal compliance and reporting systems.

In a March 7, 2024, keynote speech at the American Bar Association’s 39th National Institute on White Collar Crime, Monaco said the existing whistleblower programs have proven indispensable, but “[t]hey simply don’t address the full range of corporate and financial misconduct that the Department prosecutes.” She explained the new whistleblower program fills in these gaps by creating new incentives for individuals to report misconduct to the DOJ.

Current law authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to pay awards for information or assistance leading to civil or criminal forfeitures. While the DOJ has occasionally paid awards in the past, Monaco remarked this will be the first time that authority is used as part of a targeted program.

“The premise is simple: if an individual helps DOJ discover significant corporate or financial misconduct – otherwise unknown to us – then the individual could qualify to receive a portion of the resulting forfeiture,” Monaco said. To be eligible for a reward, the whistleblower must be “the first in the door.”

She notes the payment process under the new DOJ-run program is “still in the works,” but DOJ has already established the following basic “guardrails:”

  1. Only after all victims have been properly compensated;
  2. Only to those who submit truthful information not already known to the government;
  3. Only to those not involved in the criminal activity itself; and
  4. Only in cases where there isn’t an existing financial disclosure incentive — including a qui tam or another federal whistleblower program.

According to Monaco, the new whistleblower program will drive companies to invest in their own internal compliance and reporting systems and create new incentives for individuals to report misconduct to the DOJ.

“These incentives reinforce each other and create a multiplier effect, encouraging both companies and individuals to tell us what they know as soon as they know it,” Monaco said.

“[O]ur message to whistleblowers is clear: the Department of Justice wants to hear from you. And to those considering a voluntary self-disclosure –knock on our door before we knock on yours.”

The DOJ’s pilot program is sprinting toward a 90-day implementation, making it imperative for corporations to strengthen and maintain robust internal compliance and reporting systems.

Our New York Government Compliance and Investigations attorneys stand ready to assist. If you need help strengthening your internal compliance systems, please reach out to Harris Beach’s Government Compliance and Investigations Practice Group: Attorney Terrance P. Flynn at (716) 200-5120 and tflynn@harrisbeach.com; attorney Christine D. Vasconcellos at (212) 313-5490 and cvasconcellos@harrisbeach.com; or the Harris Beach attorney with whom you most frequently work.

This alert is not a substitute for advice of counsel on specific legal issues.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York state, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as Washington D.C., New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.