President Biden has signed into law legislation that would temporarily set up a new account to pay for the operations of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s whistleblower program, paving the way for the U.S. derivatives markets regulator to resolve a funding crisis over a large potential payout.
The bill, an amended version of the CFTC Fund Management Act, was signed into law by the president on Tuesday, after Congress passed the bipartisan legislation last month.
The White House in a statement thanked Senators Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.), Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) for their work on the new law.
A spokesperson for the White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional comment. A spokeswoman for the CFTC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The CFTC has been in turmoil in recent months over a potential whistleblower payout of more than $100 million to a former Deutsche Bank AG executive, The Wall Street Journal previously reported. CFTC leaders contended there was no mechanism to pay the bank executive and other whistleblower applicants while maintaining funding for the program.
The CFTC Customer Protection Fund, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, is funded by money the agency collects in enforcement penalties and is used to pay eligible whistleblowers as well as for operating expenses and educational initiatives associated with the whistleblower office.
The fund can be only replenished when it falls below $100 million. Any fines collected after the account reaches its cap typically go into the U.S. Treasury. The $100 million CFTC cap set in 2010 didn’t anticipate a single award could exceed that amount. If the fund is depleted, staff from the CFTC whistleblower office could end up being furloughed.
The new law would allow the CFTC to transfer up to $10 million from the fund into a separate account at the Treasury and use the account to pay for operating and programming expenses when the balance in the protection fund is insufficient. After Oct. 1, 2022, the remaining money in this account would be returned to the fund.
The CFTC will include relevant information related to the account in its reports to Congress, the bill said.
“Congress’s broad bipartisan support for this bill demonstrates just how important this program is,” Sen. Grassley, who wrote the bill, said in a statement.
Some observers are concerned that the measures provided in the bill didn’t go far enough to address the funding problem long-term.
Under the program rules, eligible tipsters are entitled to between 10% and 30% of monetary penalties collected. The CFTC has awarded roughly $123 million to whistleblowers since issuing its first award in 2014, according to the agency website.
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