On April 8, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, will be stepping down from her post and leaving the agency this month.
Norberg has served as the Office of the Whistleblower’s Chief since 2016 and previously served as the Office’s Deputy Chief. The SEC Whistleblower Program has been immensely successful under her leadership, helping the agency recover billions of dollars from fraudsters and award hundreds of millions of dollars to deserving whistleblowers.
“Under her leadership the SEC developed a world-class whistleblower program,” Kohn, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Whistleblower Center, continued. “It is a model for other agencies, both in the United States and internationally, to follow.”
“Throughout her time in the Office of the Whistleblower, Jane has demonstrated unwavering dedication to our whistleblower program,” said SEC Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee. “As head of that office, Jane’s commitment, talent, and laser focus on the interests of whistleblowers made her an invaluable member of our team. Though she will be sorely missed, she leaves as her legacy a program that has seen year after year of record setting numbers of awards and levels of payouts. For that, we are deeply grateful.”
According to the SEC, during Norberg’s tenure as Chief of the Office of the Whistleblower, whistleblower disclosures helped the SEC “bring successful enforcement actions that resulted in orders for more than $3.1 billion in sanctions, including more than $1.8 billion in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and interest, of which over $760 million has been, or is scheduled to be, returned to harmed investors.” Furthermore, during her tenure, the SEC issued awards totaling nearly $650 million to more than 110 individual whistleblowers, including the nine largest awards in program history. In the first six months of Fiscal Year 2021, the SEC has awarded $200 million to 40 individuals – both figures are fiscal year records.
The recent records for whistleblower awards, as well as the record number of whistleblower tips received in Fiscal Year 2020, are results of the Whistleblower Office’s efforts to streamline the awards process and expand Office staff under Norberg’s leadership. The Whistleblower Office also demonstrated a commitment to protecting whistleblowers from retaliation during Norberg’s tenure. During Norberg’s tenure, the agency “brought eight enforcement actions for violations of the provision that prohibits a company or individual from impeding someone’s efforts to report information to the commission, as well as three cases for retaliating against whistleblowers.” the SEC’s press release states.
“It has been a privilege to work side by side with the extraordinary and dedicated professionals at the Commission,” said Norberg. “In particular, the Office of the Whistleblower team is a powerhouse of talent and resolve. Their dedication to the mission of the Office is evident in the record-breaking numbers of awards the team has produced even under the burdens of the current pandemic. Being part of such a pivotal program has been an extraordinary honor.”
The Whistleblower Office’s Deputy Chief, Emily Pasquinelli, will serve as Acting Chief once Norberg leaves the agency.
Norberg’s departure continues a transitionary period for the SEC. Former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Director of the Division of Enforcement Stephanie Avakian both stepped down in recent months. Gary Gensler, President Biden’s nominee to be the next chair of the SEC, recently answered questions from Senator Chuck Grassley about how he would oversee the SEC Whistleblower Program. Gensler pledged his support for the program and stated “[i]f confirmed to lead the SEC, I will build on the work of past Chairs to ensure continued strength in the whistleblower program.”