The whistleblowers dilemma

Here I am, sitting on the trading desk or in the back office of a major bank or brokerage. I hear about the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's new "whistleblower" program that could pay me from 10% to 30% of any fines it collects if I am first to expose hanky-panky to the Feds. I know of an internal plot to manipulate the price of a commodity or its futures contract.

I can have a quiet visit with the boss and probably walk away - for my silence - with a promotion, a raise and/or a bonus, all the time showing my loyalty to the firm.

Or I could go first to the CFTC with the skinny, wait months while it investigates (all the time, insiders looking for the snitch) and hope that the CFTC wins a case or settlement in excess of $1 million (the minimum for bounties of any kind).

Chances are that I will choose the first option. Clean, quick and career-building.

Might the CFTC simply be adding leverage for me in negotiating with the boss? Funny thing — we will never know.

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