With a New $36 Million Bounty, SEC’s Whistleblower Compensation Tops $1.1 Billion

abdelaziz Fathi

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday said the total amount of payouts under its whistleblower program had topped $1.1 billion after the agency awarded $36 million to a tipster for flagging wrongdoing.

That marks yet another milestone for the top US cop’s whistleblower program, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and that was only implemented in 2011.

The SEC, which began paying disbursements to whistleblowers in 2012, said the last bounty was granted to one person for blowing the whistle in an unknown wrongdoing. The tipster’s information and assistance led to successful enforcement actions by the SEC and another federal agency.

Under the SEC’s program, whistleblowers can also be paid for information that prompts sanctions by other regulators, as long as they were eligible for an award in the underlying SEC action.

While it didn’t name the case involving the company that the award was connected to, the SEC said the whistleblower provided crucial information on an illegal scheme that was shared with another agency’s staff. The regulators’ interaction with him included multiple meetings and the identification of key documents and witnesses.

“Today’s whistleblower brought valuable new information to the attention of the SEC and to another federal agency, greatly assisting ongoing investigations. Whistleblowers can act as a springboard for an investigation or, like here, they can propel forward an already existing investigation,” said Emily Pasquinelli, Acting Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.

The US regulators consider several factors in determining the size of whistleblower awards. As long as their internal disclosure prompted a company investigation, they can benefit from all the information discovered in that investigation. However, whistleblowers should also report to the SEC within 120 days of the internal disclosure. Then, the commission uses the date of the internal report in determining whether they provided original information.

Last week, the SEC paid $110 million to a tipster whose independent analysis provided the agency with important insights into the extent of a company’s misconduct. The award stands as the second-largest one in the agency program’s history.

 

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