The Securities and Exchange Commission has had a strange reaction to quarantine-induced boredom, and that has been to actually do its job. But the bureaucrats and regulators aren’t the only ones keeping busy, or helping keep them busy: The previously-reviled whistleblowers have found 4,000 ways to pass the time.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission received about 4,000 tips, complaints and referrals of possible corporate wrongdoings from mid-March to mid-May, said Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC’s enforcement division. That number is 35% higher than it was in the same period last year. The tips have led to hundreds of new investigations—“many Covid-19 related, but many in other traditional areas,” Mr. Peikin said in a recent speech.
Of course, there are lots of reasons would-be whistleblowers might use their newfound freedom to try to get their employers in trouble and themselves a nice payday: There’s the fact that the SEC actually seems to be listening to them for a change. Maybe in these troubled times they need the money. There are directly coronavirus-related cases of potential impropriety, and maybe also some indirectly related. There’s the revenge of the laid off or furloughed worker.
Then again, it could just be the boredom—and a really good reason bosses might want to rethink that whole making work-from-home permanent thing.
“These people have more time on their hands,” said Christopher Connors, a managing attorney at the Connors Law Group in Chicago, whose team has taken on at least seven new whistleblower clients since the end of February—a big increase for the firm. “They don’t have to go see their bosses, and they may feel a bit more emboldened to report,” he said.