WASHINGTON, DC, September 6, 2016 – Whistleblower law firm Phillips & Cohen LLP is pleased to announce that Sean X. McKessy, the former Chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission Whistleblower Office, is joining the firm as a partner in its Washington, DC, office.
“No one knows or understands the SEC whistleblower program better than Sean McKessy,” said Erika Kelton, a partner and whistleblower attorney at Phillips & Cohen. “As Chief of the SEC Whistleblower Office, Sean was a tireless advocate for whistleblowers and the SEC’s whistleblower program.”
“He played a pivotal role in transforming the SEC’s culture into one that enthusiastically welcomes whistleblowers and appreciates their critical role in advancing the SEC’s enforcement agenda,” Ms. Kelton continued. “We are delighted to have him as our partner at Phillips & Cohen.”
Mr. McKessy said he was extremely happy to join Phillips & Cohen and continue working on behalf of whistleblowers.
“Phillips & Cohen has a well-deserved, international reputation as a top whistleblower law firm,” Mr. McKessy said. “I am looking forward to working with this impressive group of lawyers and contributing to the success of our whistleblower clients.”
Mr. McKessy was the first Chief of the SEC Whistleblower Office and served in the position for five years. Under his leadership, the Office of the Whistleblower received Commission approval to pay awards totaling nearly $100 million to 33 individuals — a record-setting pace for government whistleblower payouts.
“I am extremely proud of the work accomplished by the Whistleblower Office team during my time as Chief,” said Mr. McKessy. “I think my experience and knowledge will help whistleblowers work in the most effective way with the SEC to stop securities law violations.”
During his tenure, Mr. McKessy played a key role in the SEC’s use of the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provisions to protect SEC whistleblowers and to punish employers that discouraged employees from reporting wrongdoing to the SEC.
McKessy also actively encouraged whistleblowers in other countries who knew of violations of the US anti-bribery law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and other securities violations to come forward. In recognition of his exceptional work in building a robust whistleblower program, the SEC awarded him its Law and Policy Award in 2011.
“Too often, top government attorneys go to work defending corporate interests,” Kelton said. “It’s great to have an attorney of Sean’s caliber and experience on the side of whistleblowers. He is a tremendous addition to our strong team of whistleblower lawyers and will further distinguish Phillips & Cohen as the world’s leading law firm for SEC whistleblowers.”
Mr. McKessy brings not only a detailed knowledge of the SEC whistleblower program but also extensive experience with corporate compliance departments. He worked on internal compliance and SEC reporting matters for three different companies – Caterpillar Inc., Altria Group, Inc. and AOL – for 10 years.
Prior to those in-house positions, he was a senior counsel in the SEC’s Enforcement Division for three years.