BlackRock Settles SEC Charges It Forced Employees To Waive Whistleblower Rights

By Francine McKenna Markets MarketWatch Pulse

The Securities and Exchange Commission said on Tuesday that BlackRock Inc. , the world's largest asset manager, will pay a $340,000 penalty to settle charges the firm improperly forced exiting employees, via separation agreements, to waive their right to obtain whistleblower awards. Those waivers violate the Dodd-Frank law, said the SEC. More than 1,000 BlackRock employees signed agreements to "waive any right to recovery of incentives for reporting of misconduct", according to the SEC's order, in order to receive separation payments from the firm. BlackRock added the waiver in October 2011 after the SEC adopted Dodd-Frank whistleblower program rules, and the firm continued to include it in separation agreements until March 2016. BlackRock consented to the SEC's order without admitting or denying the findings. The firm voluntarily revised its separation agreement and has taken a number of remedial actions, including the implementation of mandatory yearly training to summarize employee rights under the SEC's whistleblower program, according to the SEC's press release.

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