On January 6, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a whistleblower award of over $13 million. The awarded whistleblower provided the agency with original information that led to a successful enforcement action.
Through the SEC Whistleblower Program, qualified whistleblowers are entitled to awards of 10-30% of the funds collected by the government in the relevant enforcement action. In addition to monetary awards, the SEC offers anti-retaliation protections to whistleblowers. One such protection is confidentiality. Thus, the SEC does not release any identifying information about whistleblowers.
“Today’s whistleblower provided significant information that alerted SEC staff to ongoing fraud, which had caused and was likely to continue to cause substantial injury to the financial interests of investors,” said Creola Kelly, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “Whistleblowers who provide information swiftly can not only save SEC staff’s time and resources, but also help minimize potential investor losses.”
In the award order, the SEC outlined three factors it considered in making the award determination: “(1) Claimant expeditiously provided significant information that alerted Commission staff to an ongoing fraud, prompting the opening of the investigation; (2) Claimant provided extensive assistance to Commission staff by meeting in person and helping the staff understand the mechanics of the fraudulent scheme and preparing a declaration to help the Commission obtain emergency relief; and (3) the law enforcement interest is very high, as Claimant’s information and assistance helped the Commission shut down an ongoing fraud and return tens of millions of dollars to harmed investors.”
In the 2021 fiscal year, the SEC issued a record $564 million in whistleblower awards to a record 108 individuals. Overall, the agency has awarded approximately $1.2 billion to 238 individuals since issuing its first award in 2012.
Individuals considering blowing the whistle to the SEC should first consult an experienced SEC whistleblower attorney to ensure they are fully protected and qualify for the largest possible award.