On August 9, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced over $16 million in whistleblower awards issued to two whistleblowers who contributed to the success of the same enforcement action.
The SEC awarded the first whistleblower $13 million and the second whistleblower $3.3 million. In the award order, the SEC explained that difference in award sizes was due to the facts that the first whistleblower “contributed substantially more to the success of the Covered Action than [the second whistleblower]” and that first whistleblower’s “information was received by the Commission several years before [the second whistleblower’s] information.”
Through the SEC Whistleblower Program, qualified whistleblowers are entitled to awards of 10-30% of the total sanctions collected in the enforcement action connected to their disclosure.
“The information and assistance provided by these two whistleblowers in helping to identify complex wrongdoing demonstrates the importance of the whistleblower program to the SEC’s enforcement efforts,” said Creola Kelly, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “These whistleblowers reported critical information that aided the SEC’s investigation and provided extensive, ongoing cooperation that helped stop the wrongdoing and protect the capital markets.”
According to the SEC, the first whistleblower “prompted the opening of the investigation and provided information on difficult-to-detect violations.” This whistleblower also “made persistent efforts to remedy the issues, while suffering hardships,” according to the award order.
The SEC notes unfavorably that the second whistleblower unreasonably delayed for years in reporting the misconduct. However, the SEC does favorably note that the whistleblower “was a valuable first-hand witness who also provided helpful information relevant to the practices engaged in by the Firm.”
Overall, the SEC has awarded more than $1.3 billion to over 280 whistleblowers. In commemoration of National Whistleblower Day, SEC Director of the Division of Enforcement Gurbir S. Grewal released a statement detailing the importance of the agency’s whistleblower program. “Over the past decade, the SEC’s whistleblower program has played a critical role in the Division of Enforcement’s ability to effectively detect wrongdoing, protect investors and the marketplace, and bring violators to justice,” Grewal said.