With limited time, corporate directors are accustomed to monitoring firms by using aggregated information that is supplied by firms’ management. Nearly every task conducted by a board of directors involves data curated by employees working for a firm’s CEO. A critical challenge for directors is to be informed of important situations that may have been lost in data aggregation or that may have been selectively not reported. Indeed, this is why firms with stellar directors and high-quality external auditors still have major public debacles. One way a corporate director can obtain unfiltered information regarding a firm’s operations and potential problems within a firm is by reviewing reports made by employees through internal reporting systems (also known as internal whistleblowing systems). The problem with this solution is that there have been differing views and understandings as to how to appropriately manage these systems and interpret these submitted reports—until now. Continue reading
On July 12 and 16, 2018, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) announced two awards to whistleblowers, one its largest-ever award, approximately $30 million, and another its first award to a whistleblower living in a foreign country. These awards—along with recent proposed changes meant to bolster the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC” or “Commission”) own whistleblower regime—demonstrate that such programs likely will continue to be significant parts of the enforcement programs of both agencies and necessarily help shape their enforcement agendas in the coming years.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) authorized the CFTC to pay awards of between 10 and 30 percent to whistleblowers who voluntarily provide original information to the CFTC leading to the successful enforcement of an action resulting in monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million. Following the introduction of implementing rules, the CFTC’s program became effective in October 2011. Over the next six-and-a-half years, the CFTC has paid whistleblower bounties on only four prior occasions, with awards ranging from $50,000 to $10 million. The $30 million award announced last week, thus, reflects a significant increase. This week’s award to a foreign whistleblower also represents another first for the CFTC’s program and reflects the global scope of the program. Continue reading
Security breaches and hacking cost publicly traded companies billions of dollars annually in stolen assets, lost business, and damaged reputations. Although detailed data are difficult to collate, the 2017’s annual Cost of Data Breach Study run by the Ponemon Institute for IBM estimated that the average per-capita cost of data breaches reached an all-time high of $225 (a 60% increase over the last decade). This is as much of a concern for businesses as it is for regulators.
As a matter of fact, the knock-on effect of a data breach can substantially affect a company’s reputation, resulting in abnormal customer turnover and loss of goodwill, which in turn affect firms’ policies and ultimately revenues and profits. For this reason, companies are often reluctant to reveal information about security breaches due to fear of both short-term and long-term market reactions.
Corporate governance has long been an area of focus for boards and recent proposals in the UK have ensured that this remains the case.
The Financial Reporting Council consulted in late 2017 on proposed changes to its Corporate Governance Code for quoted companies. The final text of the changes is expected to be published this summer, for introduction in 2019.
The focus on governance extends beyond the quoted company arena. Legislation laid before Parliament in June 2018 will, amongst other things, require large UK private companies to disclose in their annual directors’ report details of the corporate governance arrangements they have operated during the previous year. At the same time, a consultation has been launched on proposed corporate governance principles for large private companies, which the government hopes will be adopted by those companies as an appropriate framework when complying with the new governance-related reporting requirement. Continue reading
Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released an updated Cybersecurity Framework (PDF: 1,038 KB) that revises NIST’s baseline recommendations for the design of cybersecurity risk management programs. In announcing its release, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross described the updated Framework as “a must do for all CEOs” and recommended that “every company” adopt the Framework as its “first line of defense.” As with the prior version, the updated NIST Framework provides a useful tool to guide and benchmark company approaches to cybersecurity risk and will impact how regulators evaluate cybersecurity programs and incident responses across sectors. Continue reading
Last week the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued much-anticipated Frequently Asked Questions (PDF: 387 KB) (FAQs) that provide additional guidance to financial institutions relating to the implementation of the new Customer Due Diligence Rule (CDD Rule), set to go into effect on May 11, 2018. In general, the FAQs clarify certain issues that have caused implementation challenges for financial institutions. While FinCEN’s earlier guidance provided a general overview of the CDD Rule—including the purpose of the rule, the institutions to which it is applicable, and some relevant definitions—the new FAQs provide greater detail for financial institutions seeking to comply with the CDD Rule. The FAQs are meant to assist covered financial institutions in understanding the scope of their customer due diligence (CDD) obligations, as well as the rule’s impact on their broader anti-money laundering (AML) compliance. While the guidance is helpful in clarifying some of FinCEN’s expectations, the implementation challenge lies in applying the CDD Rule to a financial institution’s specific products and services.
As financial institutions work to meet the CDD Rule’s fast-approaching May 11 compliance deadline, they should pay special attention to the following key areas summarized below. Continue reading
Corporations have reputations, just like individuals. However, the costs of protecting a corporate reputation, or the costs of losing one, are not well understood. Negative reputation shocks can be costly, and recent scandals at well-known firms such as News Corp. and Volkswagen have reaffirmed the fragility of corporate reputations. However, corporations can also invest in technologies such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) to build their reputations or to provide insurance against a future reputation shock. In a recent paper, we find that negative reputation shocks are at least partially insurable through CSR and that firms actively invest in CSR as the result of a negative reputation shock. Continue reading
In recent years, companies have heightened their focus on cybersecurity issues, dedicating substantially more resources to mitigating escalating cyber risks. Increasingly, these efforts include purchasing some form of cyber insurance.
Any cyber insurance policy should supplement, rather than replace, a cybersecurity risk mitigation program. While such a policy may be a useful element of a multifaceted strategy, cyber insurance is far from a panacea. First, the size and types of damages resulting from a catastrophic cyber incursion can exceed even significant policy limits. Additionally, cyber insurance coverage is unlikely to extend to reputational losses or intellectual property theft. Moreover, the cyber insurance market is relatively young and policy forms are still evolving. Thus, cyber insurance does not have the same claims history or established understanding of policy terms that can be found in more mature insurance markets. Continue reading
In 2010, in the wake of the financial crisis, Congress passed comprehensive financial regulation reform legislation known as the Dodd-Frank Act (Pub.L. 111-203). Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Act established both a bounty award program as well as anti-retaliation protection for whistleblowers who report securities law violations.
Pursuant to the mandate of Section 922, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) established an Office of the Whistleblower, and implemented its final rules on the Dodd-Frank Program through a comprehensive rulemaking process that involved significant public input in May 2011. Continue reading
In today’s world, data breaches are a regular occurrence. The size and scale varies, and they have different causes, but those matters are irrelevant if you are a data subject affected – you just want the situation resolved and compensation for any losses you suffer. Who should be responsible for those breaches? Where a company has not taken sufficient steps to safeguard personal data, the answer is obvious. But what about where a rogue employee leaks personal data with the deliberate intention of harming his employer? The English High Court has recently decided that even in that instance, the employer is liable to data subjects. Although there is no specific case on this point, we believe that a similar outcome would be reached in an action under US law. Continue reading