The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced a whistleblower award of over $3.5 million to a company employee whose tip bolstered an ongoing investigation with additional evidence of wrongdoing that strengthened the SEC’s case.
By law, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose information that might directly or indirectly reveal a whistleblower’s identity.
For some background, the SEC’s whistleblower program has now awarded more than $62 million to 28 whistleblowers since the program’s inception in 2011. Whistleblowers may be eligible for an award when they voluntarily provide the SEC with unique and useful information that leads to a successful enforcement action.
These awards can range from 10% to 30% of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million. All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators. None of the money has been taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards.
Separately, the agency mentioned that whistleblowers should be encouraged to come forward and report allegations of potential securities laws violations even if they think the SEC may already be looking into it.
Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, commented:
Whistleblowers can receive an award not only when their tip initiates an investigation, but also when they provide new information or documentation that advances an existing inquiry. This particular whistleblower’s tip substantially strengthened our ongoing case and increased our leverage during settlement negotiations with the company.
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