Erika A. Kelton, a partner at Phillips & Cohen, has substantial experience and success representing US and international whistleblowers in cases brought under US whistleblower reward programs.
She has won four SEC whistleblower awards for clients, including one of the largest SEC whistleblower awards — more than $32 million awarded to an international whistleblower in a case involving massive securities fraud. She also secured for a separate client an SEC whistleblower award of more than $3 million.
Ms. Kelton also has set records in her work on “qui tam” (False Claims Act) whistleblower cases. Ms. Kelton represented whistleblowers in the two biggest healthcare fraud settlements ever:
- A record-setting settlement by GlaxoSmithKline for $3 billion in 2012. Phillips & Cohen’s qui tam lawsuit against Glaxo filed on behalf of two whistleblower clients and a separate whistleblower lawsuit settled for a combined $1.017 billion plus a related criminal fine of $554 million for a criminal charge based on Phillips & Cohen’s case.
- A whistleblower case against Pfizer Inc. for illegally marketing the painkiller, Bextra. Pfizer paid $1.8 billion in 2009 to settle that case and a related criminal fine. The settlement was the biggest piece of a global settlement of several whistleblower cases by Pfizer for $2.3 billion – which was at the time the largest healthcare fraud settlement ever in the U.S. and now is second largest after the Glaxo settlement.
...as impressive as the corporate scalps on her wall is Kelton's mastery of the art of relating to, protecting and guiding the whistleblower.
But as Lawdragon noted in an article about Phillips & Cohen, “as impressive as the corporate scalps on her wall is Kelton’s mastery of the art of relating to, protecting and guiding the whistleblower.”
Ms. Kelton has been recognized for her work on behalf of whistleblowers many times. She was named to Best Lawyers’ 2021 list and recognized as a qui tam “Whistleblower Lawyer of the Year” for 2021. Lawdragon has selected her for its “500 Leading Lawyers in America” list every year since 2013. Taxpayers Against Fraud, a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of whistleblowers, also has named her as a “Whistleblower Lawyer of the Year.”
Her other successful whistleblower cases include:
- The IRS whistleblower claim of a confidential tax informant, known as “Mr. ABC,” who provided the Internal Revenue Service with important information about fraudulent tax shelters set up by Wall Street investment firms and who testified on the matter before the Senate Finance Committee. The complex tax schemes cost the U.S. Treasury hundreds of millions of dollars.
- A whistleblower case brought on behalf of a former investment banker against numerous Wall Street banks involving IRS prohibitions against tax-exempt municipal bond arbitrage and violations of securities laws. The case, which exposed the widespread practice of “yield-burning” on Wall Street, returned more than $200 million to the U.S. Treasury.
- A whistleblower lawsuit against Wall Street investment giant Mario Gabelli that alleged he and affiliated companies set up sham companies to qualify for certain telecom licenses. Mr. Gabelli and his associates paid a $130 million settlement.
As an expert in whistleblower enforcement approaches, Ms. Kelton has consulted with the U.S. Congress, the Securities Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Internal Revenue Service on the establishment and workings of the agencies’ whistleblower programs. Both the SEC and the IRS have featured her as an invited speaker at internal conferences for their attorneys and investigators to discuss more effective ways to work with whistleblowers in enforcement matters.
Ms. Kelton is active in international whistleblower matters, including matters before the UK Financial Conduct Authority. The UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards requested Ms. Kelton submit testimony about whistleblowing and quoted from her testimony in its report. She also has consulted on whistleblower programs with policymakers and legislators in Europe and Asia.
Ms. Kelton is frequently interviewed by journalists for her expertise in whistleblower matters involving the False Claims Act and the IRS whistleblower program, as well as the SEC whistleblower program and CFTC whistleblower program created by the Dodd-Frank Act. She often has been quoted by U.S. media – including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal – and by media in other countries, such as Valor Economico (Brazil), the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), the BBC, The Financial Times and Australian Public Radio.
Ms. Kelton has published several articles and op-eds about whistleblower laws and programs. She also is a regular contributor to Forbes.com.
Ms. Kelton graduated from the University of California Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), where she was articles editor of the California Law Review. From 1987 to 1994 she was associated with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Ms. Kelton is on the Board of Directors and the President’s Council for Taxpayers Against Fraud, a nonprofit, public interest organization that supports and advocates on behalf of whistleblowers.
She and fellow Phillips & Cohen partner Claire M. Sylvia recently taught a course on whistleblower law at the New York University School of Law. They regularly teach a similar course at Berkeley Law at the University of California. Their courses are some of the few on whistleblower law that are taught at a major law school.
Ms. Kelton is admitted to the bar in Washington, DC, and California. She is a member of the International Bar Association.
- “SEC votes to amend whistleblower-award rule,” The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2020.
- “How Dodd Frank changed whistleblowing forever,” ValueWalk, July 7, 2020.
- “Supreme Court’s Ruling on SEC Disgorgement Could Shrink Whistleblower Awards,” The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2020.
- “Supreme Court upholds SEC’s power to take illegal profits from Orange County couple,” The Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2020.
- “More cases likely as U.S. CFTC Trafigura investigation shows commitment to fight corruption in commodities markets,” Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence, June 19, 2020.
- “Wave of Whistleblower Suits Predicted Over Virus Relief Aid,” on BloombergLaw, June 1, 2020.
- Kosovo documentary on US whistleblower laws and whistleblowers, Dec. 9, 2019.
- “SEC Whistleblower Tips Decline as Agency Looks to Limit Big Awards,” The Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2019.
- “Deutsche Bank Whistleblowers Lose Bid to Force SEC Awards,” Bloomberg Law, November 8, 2019.
- “CFTC whistleblower tips and awards fall after record 2018,” The Wall Street Journal, November 7, 2019.
- “HUD, Justice Department agree to avoid False Claims Act for loan violations,” CQ Roll Call, October 31, 2019.
- “Juul Knowingly Sold Tainted Nicotine Pods, Former Executive Says,” The New York Times, October 30, 2019.
- “Infosys faces class action suit in US as regulators step up pressure,” The Economic Times, October 24, 2019.
- “US Senators propose fix to whistleblower loophole,” Global Investigations Review, September 25, 2019.
- “CFTC Calls For Whistleblower Tips As Enforcement Evolves,” Law360, September 19, 2019.
- “This investor who blew the whistle on JPMorgan got a huge award, but those days may be numbered,” Fast Company, April 5, 2019.
- “Ninth Circuit Limits Protections for Whistleblowers Reporting FCPA Violations,” Anti-Corruption Report, April 3, 2019.
- “New UK Watchdog Poised to Take on Embattled Audit Sector,” Law360, March 15, 2019.
- “EU Reforms May Help Open Doors For Whistleblowers,” Law360, February 20, 2019.
- “Target to pay $3M over Medicaid Rx refill rules,” Bloomberg Law, December 11, 2018.
- “SEC Whistleblower Office sees jump in tips in 2018,” ThinkAdvisor, November 15, 2018.
- “UK financial watchdogs fail to bite in Barclays case,” Financial Times, April 20, 2018.
- “For critics, FCA fails test by giving Barclays CEO Staley a pass,” Bloomberg Markets, April 20, 2018.
- “Being a whistleblower is risky – attorney Erika Kelton discusses the international perspective,” BBC World Service Business Matters, April 5, 2018.
- “What the Digital Realty Trust decision means for FCPA compliance,” The Anti-Corruption Report, March 7, 2018.
- “In potential ‘lose-lose’ ruling, SCOTUS limits employee whistleblower protections,” HR Dive, February 22, 2018.
- “Barclays’ new SFO charge shows financial crisis can still cause pain a decade on,” The Telegraph (UK), February 12, 2018.
- “Kmart Fined $32.3 Million Over Rx Drug Fraud,” CFO, December 28, 2017.
- “Kmart to Pay $32.3M to Settle False Claims Act Allegations,” Health Leaders Media, December 27, 2017.
- “Kmart to Pay $42 Million to Settle False Claims Act Case,” Corporate Crime Reporter, December 27, 2017.
- “Whistleblower Protections Here To Stay, Expert Says,” Law360, October 27, 2017.
- “Ride the Whistleblower Wave,” Law.com, August 7, 2017.
- “Barclays Bank CEO gets reprimanded,” Financial Express, July 7, 2017.
- “Regulator reveals number of tip offs about advisers,” Financial Times, July 5, 2017.
- “Law Firms React to Growing Wave of Whistleblower Lawsuits,” National Law Journal, June 12, 2017.
- “CFTC Authorized to File Whistle-Blower Retaliation Claims, Bloomberg BNA, May 23, 2017.
- “How mistreating whistleblowers could be come a liability for you and your company,” CNBC, April 11, 2017.
- “Staley’s Whistle-Blower Hunt Places Barclays Tenure at Risk,” Bloomberg, April 10, 2017.
- “Silicon Valley biotech exec fights to dismiss illegal marketing case,” Mercury News, November 4, 2016.
- “SEC’s First Whistleblower Office Leader Announces Departure as Awards Mount,” National Law Journal, July 8, 2016.
- “Prairie Meadows points finger at whistleblower,” Des Moines Register, June 14, 2016.
- “Ex-Oracle employee sues company claiming she was fired after threatening to ‘blow the whistle,’” Inside Counsel, June 6, 2016.
- “SEC continues to pay out sizable awards for help from whistleblowers,” Inside Counsel, May 24, 2016.
- “SEC Awards Whistleblower $3.5 Million for Help in Ongoing Investigation,” National Law Journal, May 13, 2016.
- “CFTC Pays Over $10M In Record Whistleblower Award,” Law360, April 4, 2016.
- “U.S. Commodities Agency Rewards $10M to Whistleblower—a Record,” National Law Journal, April 4, 2016.
- “SEC Responds to Whistleblower Who Challenged Agency Delay,” National Law Journal, February 9, 2016.
- “My Legal Life: Erika Kelton,” Law Society Gazette (UK), January 5, 2016.
- “SEC continues to pay out millions for whistleblowing tips,” Inside Counsel, July 27, 2015.
- “SEC Awards More Than $3 Million to Whistleblower,” Corporate Crime Reporter, July 17, 2015.
- “SEC to Give Biggest-Ever Whistleblower Award,” Accounting Today, September 22, 2014.
- “Glaxo in $3 Billion Settlement,” Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2012.
- “Glaxo Agrees to Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement,” The New York Times, July 2, 2012.
- “Wall Street tipster gets rich off IRS whistleblower program,” CNN Money, October 4, 2012.
- “U.S. tax whistleblower gets $2 million IRS award -lawyer,” Reuters, October 4, 2012.
- “IRS pays Enron whistleblower $1.1 million,” The Washington Post, March 15, 2011.
- “INSIGHT: Dodd-Frank’s 10th Anniversary—Time for SEC Whistleblower Changes” – Bloomberg Law
- “Compliance personnel face risks and rewards as SEC whistleblowers” – Compliance Week
- “Wanted: An Army of Whistleblowers” – Forbes.com
- “Wells Fargo Does Something Right” – Forbes.com
- “The SEC Whistleblower Program: Make Or Break Time” – Forbes.com
- “Defacto ‘cap’ on SEC whistleblower awards would be a big mistake” – Forbes.com
- “What Reckitt’s $1.4 Billion Settlement Says About The Pharma Industry” – Forbes.com
- “Hertz makes a rare move by suing former executives” – Forbes.com
- “Barclays, Danske, Lloyds: three reasons why UK whistleblower laws must change” – Employment Lawyers Association Briefing
- “Danske Bank’s culture of silence implodes, thanks to a whistleblower” – Forbes.com
- “CFTC whistleblower program gains momentum with awards totaling $75 Million” – Forbes.com
- “Goal for FIFA after the World Cup: recruit whistleblowers” – Forbes.com
- “Societe Generale’s settlement signals continued strong enforcement of US anti-bribery law” – Forbes.com
- “U.K. decision about Jes Staley in Barclays whistleblower case is a disaster” – Forbes.com
- “Whistleblowers and the health service” – The Irish Times
- “Tax Whistleblower Laws and Programs” – Bloomberg BNA
- “UK needs to change its whistleblower culture and assist people brave enough to report wrongdoing” – Belfast Telegraph
- “Ben Carson is wrong. Law used to fight FHA fraud is essential” – American Banker
- “Reward informants” – The Canberra Times
- “Why rewarding whistleblowers is essential” – Financial Times
- “Sepp Blatter is wrong. Whistleblowers are courageous and deserve our support” – The Guardian
- “More apologies are due from Barclays’ Staley” – Financial Times
- “IRS should use whistleblowers, not collection agencies, to close the tax gap” – The Hill
“Who Is a Whistleblower Under Dodd-Frank’s Anti-Retaliation Provisions?” – NYU Compliance & Enforcement
“Help More Whistle-Blowers” – The New York Times
- “Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf’s ‘Gutless Leadership’ Keeps Bank Mired In Mud” – Forbes.com
- “Look Who’s Bearing The Cost Of Pharma’s Long-Time Sales And Marketing Tactics” – Forbes.com
- “LuxLeaks highlights need for whistleblower protection and incentives” – EurActiv
- “Rewarding whistleblowers” – The Economist
- “It’s Time to Stop Thinking of Whistleblowers as ‘Nut Jobs'” – Compliance Week
- “CEOs would pay attention to bonus clawbacks” – Financial Times
- 2020 Fraud Fest – Berkeley Center for Law and Business, June 25, 2020
- Moderator: Developments at the SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Offices – 19th Annual Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund Annual Conference, October 3, 2019
- Moderator: Developments at the SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Offices – Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund Annual Conference 2018, Washington, DC, October, 2018
- Thirty Sixth International Symposium on Economic Crime – Cambridge, UK, September 2018
- Moderator: Developments at the SEC, IRS, and CFTC Whistleblower Offices – Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund Annual Conference 2017 – Washington, DC, November 2017
- International Whistleblowing: A US and UK Perspective – Employment Lawyers Association (London) – London, UK, July 2017
- Whistleblower Psychology – 6th Annual White Collar Crime Institute – New York City, NY, May 2017
- US-Italy Conference on Whistleblower Laws – US Embassy in Italy – October 2016
- Speaker at an Internal SEC conference – Washington, DC, June 2016
- Insider Trading, Whistleblowers and the Expanding Role of Big Data in Securities Enforcement – Securities Enforcement Forum West – San Francisco, CA, May 2016
- Navigating the Minefield of Dodd-Frank’s Whistleblower Provisions and the FCPA – Securities Docket – November 2015
- Moderator at several Taxpayer Against Fraud Conference panels, including:
- “Discussion with the Directors”: IRS, SEC, and CFTC Whistleblower ‘Boot Camp’
- Update on the IRS, SEC, CFTC, and New York Attorney General Whistleblower Programs
- Views from the Other Side: The Perspective of Plaintiff’s Counsel and Whistleblowers – Whistleblower Enforcement and Compliance – Washington, DC, July 2015
- Enticing the Top Echelon: How the IRS, SEC and CFTC Attract High-Level Whistleblowers – Off Shore Alert Conference – Miami Beach, FL, April 2012
- Overcoming Resistance When Implementing Whistleblowing Programmes in France – C5 4th Paris Edition on Anti-Corruption – Paris, FR, October 2011
- Whistleblowing – a concept for Europe? – Basel Institute – Basel, CH, July 2011
- Overcoming Challenges Resulting from Various Legal and Compliance Requirements to Globally Address Corruption Risk – 10th European Forum on Anti-Corruption, Frankfurt Edition – Frankfurt, DE, 2011