The Semiannual Report sent to Congress from A. Roy Lavik, the Inspector General for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), contains information about the CFTC’s Whistleblower Program. The report covers the time between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. During this time, the OIG received 39 new whistleblower allegations but found no instances of whistleblower retaliation.
Investigations from Prior Reporting Periods
According to the report, which is accessible at this webpage, the OIG “began the reporting period with four investigations pending, opened two additional investigations, and closed three investigations.” Thus, the OIG ended the reporting period with three pending investigations. One of the investigations from the prior reporting period centered around the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The OIG matched PPP “loan fund recipients with CFTC employees and determined whether those matched CFTC employees have approval for their outside business activities.” CFTC employees are barred from engaging in “outside business activities without prior agency authorization, and may not operate an outside business using CFTC equipment or during CFTC working hours.” For this investigation, “OIG found irregularities in record keeping but did not uncover intentional misconduct by matched CFTC employees.” The OIG provided 10 recommendations to the CFTC as a result of this investigation; however, the Agency has yet to respond, “and OIG intends to follow up on these recommendations after 30 days following issuance of the report.” The second and third phases of this investigation are ongoing.
The second investigation from the prior reporting period stemmed from “an allegation that two staff level employees were unqualified to hold their positions.” OIG conducted an investigation and found “that the allegations were not sustained.” This investigation was closed on March 28, 2022.
Another investigation examined “allegations that a CFTC employee used personal email and equipment to conduct official business, including potential improper transfer of confidential information and PII.” The OIG’s investigation found that the employee’s actions did not constitute a criminal violation but “misconduct on the part of the employee had occurred.” The OIG made four recommendations to the CFTC, one being that the Agency should “consider disciplinary action.”
The last investigation arose from “an anonymous allegation that a CFTC employee had been falsely reporting time worked on their timesheets during the work-from-home period of the COVID-19 pandemic.” From their investigation, OIG found “no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the employee and closed the investigation.” The OIG states in the report that for all of the above reports, it intends to provide information on the implementation of its recommendations in future Semiannual Reports.
Whistleblower Allegations: October 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022
The OIG received 39 new allegations during the reporting period for this report: 33 were made through the OIG email hotline, 4 were made from the OIG phone hotline, and 2 were made “by other OIG phone.” The OIG closed all 39 allegations during the reporting period: 31 allegations were referred to the Division of Enforcement. Two complainants were referred to the CFTC at email@example.com “to address general questions,” while another complainant was referred “to the CFTC Office of Proceedings Reparations Program within [the Division of Administration] for information and assistance.” Another complainant was referred by OIG to the CFTC Market Participants Division “for information and assistance.”
Additionally, the OIG closed three allegations “due to inadequate evidence” and closed another allegation “with a new investigation opened.” The report states that when the reporting period ended, there were no pending allegations.
The OIG did not find cases of whistleblower retaliation during the reporting period. “There were no reports of investigation involving a senior Government employee where allegations of misconduct were substantiated.”
Other Updates from the OIG
The report states that OIG “has engaged a contractor to perform” an audit, in compliance with Section 748 of the Dodd-Frank Act. The section “requires the Agency to submit to Congress a yearly report on the Commission’s whistleblower award program that includes a complete set of audited financial statements, including a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow analysis.”
The report also mentions an ongoing Inspection and Evaluation of the confidentiality protections of the Agency’s Whistleblower Office. The Inspection and Evaluation is “to assess the policies and procedures concerning whistleblower confidentiality protections, including policies and procedures concerning inadvertent disclosures.”