SEC awards $20 million to whistleblower despite degree of culpability and reporting delay

Rick Steves

The Securities and Exchange Commission has awarded a whistleblower with $20 million for providing new and critical information that led to the success of an enforcement action.

Payments to whistleblowers are made out of an investor protection fund, established by Congress, which is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators. According to the SEC, no money has been taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards.

Original, timely, and credible information that leads to a successful enforcement action is eligible for an award that can range from 10 to 30 percent of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million.

Their information saves the agency time and resources

Creola Kelly, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said: “Today’s whistleblower played a crucial role in the ultimate success of the enforcement proceeding. Whistleblowers can help advance existing investigations in meaningful ways when their information saves the agency time and resources, and when their contributions allow SEC staff to better understand complicated issues.”

According to the SEC, $20 million was the appropriate award amount because of the significant information and continuing assistance that helped Enforcement Division staff more quickly and efficiently investigate complex issues.

$20 million take culpability and delay into account

According to the whistleblower award proceeding in this case (File No. 2023-17), the SEC awarded the $20 million to ‘Claimant 1’ because they voluntarily provided original information to the Commission and that this original information led to the successful enforcement of the action.

“Claimant 1, however, provided no information with respect to discussed in the Covered Action, was involved for a short period and at the direction of his/her supervisor in the conduct underlying part of the Covered Action, and delayed reporting for over two years after being involved in such conduct”, the SEC stated.

The financial watchdog said the $20 million appropriately recognizes Claimant 1’s contribution to the Covered Action while also accounting for both his/her level of culpability and unreasonable reporting delay.

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