The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a whistleblower award of more than $17 million to a former company employee whose detailed tip substantially advanced the agency’s investigation and ultimate enforcement action.
The award is the second-largest issued by the SEC since its whistleblower program began nearly five years ago. The SEC issued a $30 million award in September 2014 and a $14 million award in October 2013.
According to Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement:
Company insiders are uniquely positioned to protect investors and blow the whistle on a company’s wrongdoing by providing key information to the SEC so we can investigate the full extent of the violations. The information and assistance provided by this whistleblower enabled our enforcement staff to conserve time and resources and gather strong evidence supporting our case.
Sean X. McKessy, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, added, “In the past month, five whistleblowers have received a total of more than $26 million, and we hope these substantial awards encourage other individuals with knowledge of potential federal securities law violations to make the right choice to come forward and report the wrongdoing to the SEC.”
By law, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose information that might directly or indirectly reveal a whistleblower’s identity.
The SEC’s whistleblower program has now awarded more than $85 million to 32 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. Whistleblower awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent 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. No money has been taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards.