Award puts the agency over the $100 million mark in awards paid
The Securities and Exchange Commission has awarded more than $22 million to a whistleblower this week, putting the agency over $100 million in total whistleblower bounties awarded since the program was established in February 2011 under the Dodd-Frank Act.
The $22 million-plus award is the second-largest total the SEC has paid to a whistleblower. The Commission said the award went to an unnamed company insider, "whose detailed tip and extensive assistance helped the agency halt a well-hidden fraud at the company where the whistleblower worked." The largest award, $30 million, was paid out in 2014 also to an anonymous tipster.
"Company employees are in unique positions behind-the-scenes to unravel complex or deeply buried wrongdoing. Without this whistleblower's courage, information, and assistance, it would have been extremely difficult for law enforcement to discover this securities fraud on its own," said Jane Norberg, acting chief of the SEC's Office of the Whistleblower.
More than $107 million has been awarded to 33 whistleblowers who became eligible for an award by voluntarily providing the SEC with original and useful information that led to a successful enforcement action. Whistleblower awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million. All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators. By law, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose information that might directly or indirectly reveal a whistleblower's identity.
"The SEC's whistleblower program has proven to be a game changer for the agency in its short time of existence, providing a source of valuable information to the SEC to further its mission of protecting investors while providing whistleblowers with protections and financial rewards," said Mary Jo White, Chair of the SEC.
The whistleblower program was established by Congress to incentivize whistleblowers with specific, timely and credible information about federal securities law violations to report to the SEC. To date, enforcement actions resulting from whistleblower tips have resulted in orders for more than $500 million in financial remedies, much of which has been returned to harmed investors.
Since the program's inception:
• The Whistleblower Office has received more than 14,000 whistleblower tips from individuals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and 95 foreign countries.
• Tips from whistleblowers have increased from 3,001 in the fiscal year 2012 – the first full fiscal year that the Whistleblower Office was in operation – to nearly 4,000 last year, an approximately 30 percent increase.
• More than $107 million has been awarded to 33 whistleblowers, with the largest being more than $30 million.
• Because of the information and assistance provided by these whistleblowers, the SEC was able to bring successful enforcement actions where more than $504 million was ordered in sanctions, including more than $346 million in disgorgement and interest for wronged investors.
The SEC also has brought actions to ensure that employees feel secure in reporting wrongdoing to the SEC, without fear of reprisal from their employers, including one enforcement action under the anti-retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and four actions against companies for including language in confidentiality and severance agreements that impeded whistleblowers from reporting to the SEC.