On September 20, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a $1.5 million whistleblower award to an individual who voluntarily provided the agency with original information that led to a successful SEC enforcement action and a successful action by another agency.
Through the SEC Whistleblower Program, the SEC grants qualified whistleblowers 10-30% of the funds collected in an SEC enforcement action that their whistleblower disclosure contributed to. Under the program’s related action provisions, whistleblowers are also entitled to awards when their information is successfully used in an action by another agency.
According to the SEC, the “information [the whistleblower] provided to the Commission was valuable, on point, and conserved Commission resources.” The SEC also notes that the whistleblower did provide ongoing assistance to the other agency.
The related action provisions were the subject of a recent rule change to the SEC Whistleblower Program. On August 26, the SEC voted 3-2 to approve two rule changes. The related action rule change allows whistleblowers to qualify for related action awards even if the other agency has its own whistleblower award program. The SEC will be able to pay related action awards in these cases if the other program “is not is not comparable to the Commission’s program” or if the related action award would be for less than $5 million.
“The related action requirements are among the most important features of the Dodd-Frank whistleblower law,” states whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto. “These provisions ensure that whistleblowers will be rewarded not only for providing information to the SEC, but also if they cooperate with other law enforcement agencies that are investigating crimes based on the evidence they provide to the SEC. The related action provision ensures that the information provided to the Commission will be exploited to the maximum extent possible to hold accountable or put into jail all of the criminals who are ripping off investors, the taxpayers and the public.”
“I think that these rules will strengthen our whistleblower program,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “That helps protect investors.” Since the SEC Whistleblower Program was established in 2010, it has allowed the agency to recover over $5 billion from fraudsters. Correspondingly, the agency has awarded over $1.3 billion in awards to over 280 whistleblowers.
Geoff Schweller also contributed to this article.