The 2021 fiscal year was a record-shattering year for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Whistleblower Program. Over the course of the fiscal year, the SEC issued approximately $564 million in whistleblower awards to 108 individuals. These awards included the three largest whistleblower awards issued in SEC Whistleblower Program history. Below are the five largest awards issued over the course of the 2021 fiscal year.
5. $28 Million Award
On November 3, 2020, the SEC issued a whistleblower award of over $28 million. The whistleblower provided significant information to the SEC which led to a successful enforcement action. Additionally, the whistleblower reported the misconduct internally which prompted the company to launch an internal investigation which, in turn, saved the SEC time and resources in its investigation.
4. $36 Million Award
On September 24, 2021, the SEC issued a whistleblower award of approximately $36 million. According to the SEC, “the whistleblower provided crucial information on an illegal scheme to the SEC’s and the other agency’s staffs, which included multiple meetings and the identification of key documents and witnesses.” However, the whistleblower did unreasonably delay reporting the violations to the SEC, which the SEC negatively factored into the award determination.
3. $50 Million Award
On April 15, 2021, the SEC awarded over $50 million to joint whistleblowers who provided information that “alerted SEC staff to violations that involved highly complex transactions and would have been difficult to detect without their information.” According to the SEC, the joint whistleblowers “provided exemplary assistance to the SEC staff during the investigation,” which included “meeting with staff numerous times and providing voluminous detailed documents.” The whistleblowers’ disclosure and assistance helped the SEC return tens of millions of dollars to harmed investors.
2. $110 Million Award
On September 15, 2021, the SEC awarded $110 million to a whistleblower. According to the SEC, the whistleblower “utilized publicly available information in a way that went beyond the information itself and afforded the Commission with important insights.” Furthermore, the whistleblower’s “own examination, evaluation, and analysis contributed significant independent information that bridged the gap between certain publicly available information and the possible securities violations that the Commission and the Other Agency were investigating.”
1. $114 Million Award
On October 20, 2020, the SEC issued a $114 million whistleblower award – the largest in program history. In this case, the whistleblower provided information and assistance that led to the SEC’s successful enforcement action and successful related actions by other agencies. Approximately $52 million of the award stems from the SEC case, while the additional $62 million stems from the related actions.
Through the SEC Whistleblower Program, qualified whistleblowers, individuals who voluntarily provide the SEC original information that leads to a successful enforcement action, are entitled to a monetary award of 10-30% of funds recovered in the action. The size of whistleblower awards issued in 2021 demonstrates the massive amount of funds the SEC has been able to recover on account of whistleblowers.