SEC Grants More than $4 Million in Whistleblower Awards
On January 10, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued two whistleblower awards totaling more than $4 million. The awarded whistleblowers provided the SEC with information and assistance which led to successful enforcement actions.
“These whistleblowers provided critical information and continued cooperation that helped the agency detect the securities laws violations,” said Creola Kelly, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “These awards highlight the importance of the SEC’s whistleblower program to the agency’s enforcement efforts and to its ability to maximize staff resources.”
In the first award order, the SEC awarded a whistleblower approximately $2.6 million for offering information and assistance that helped the agency obtain evidence of wrongdoing that was occurring abroad. The whistleblower first reported their concerns internally before contacting the SEC. According to the award order, the whistleblower provided information which “significantly contributed to an existing investigation” and “also communicated with the staff over the course of the investigation and identified potential witnesses.”
In the second award order, the SEC awarded approximately $1.5 million to joint whistleblowers. According to the award order, the whistleblowers “provided substantial ongoing assistance throughout the course of the investigation, providing several interviews and consulting telephonically with staff via counsel on numerous occasions, including before and after witness testimony of key witnesses.”
Through the SEC Whistleblower Program, qualified whistleblowers are entitled to a monetary award of 10-30% of the funds recovered by the government when the sanctions collected exceed $1 million. The SEC considers a number of factors in determining the exact percentage of a whistleblower award. These include the significance of the whistleblower’s information, the degree of additional assistance provided by the whistleblower, and whether the whistleblower reported their concerns internally.
Since issuing its first award in 2012, the SEC has awarded approximately $1.2 billion to 241 individuals. During the 2021 fiscal year, the SEC awarded approximately $564 million to 108 individuals – both of which are fiscal year records.
Individuals considering blowing the whistle to the SEC should first consult an experienced SEC whistleblower attorney to ensure that they are fully protected from retaliation and qualify for the largest possible award.