On March 18, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued three separate whistleblower awards totaling $3 million. Each of the awarded whistleblowers voluntarily provided the agency with original information that led to a successful enforcement action.
“Whistleblowers are instrumental to the agency’s ability to detect wrongdoing,” said Creola Kelly, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “Each of today’s whistleblowers alerted SEC staff to the securities laws violations and then provided essential assistance that aided the investigation.”
In the first order, the SEC awarded approximately $1.5 million to a whistleblower whose information prompted the agency to commence an examination and then open an investigation into alleged securities laws violations. The whistleblower additionally provided assistance to SEC staff during the course of the investigation.
In the second order, the SEC awarded over $1 million to a whistleblower who was an insider that also reported the violations internally. According to the SEC, the whistleblower’s disclosure “prompted the opening of the investigation and saved Commission time and resources.” The whistleblower also provided ongoing assistance to the SEC during the investigation, including participating in multiple interviews with Enforcement staff.
In the third order, the SEC issued an award of over $400,000 to a whistleblower whose allegations “bear a close nexus” to the charges brought by the SEC in an enforcement action. According to the SEC, the whistleblower “internally reported his/her concerns, causing the company to cease the conduct,” “submitted a detailed tip that prompted the opening of the investigation,” and “met with the Enforcement staff and provided supplemental information and continuing assistance throughout the investigation.”
Through the SEC Whistleblower Program, qualified whistleblowers, individuals who voluntarily provide original information that leads to a successful enforcement action, are entitled to an award of 10-30% of the funds collected by the government. In addition to monetary awards, the SEC Whistleblower Program offers anti-retaliation protections to whistleblowers. One such protection is confidentiality; thus, the SEC does not disclose any identifying information about award recipients.
Since issuing its first award in 2012, the SEC has awarded approximately $1.2 billion to 254 individuals. In the 2021 fiscal year, the SEC Whistleblower Program set several records. During the fiscal year, the SEC awarded approximately $564 million to 108 individuals.