The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Friday, May 13, 2016, that it would award at least $3.5 million to an employee who provided the Commission with information relating to an ongoing investigation. This marks the 28th whistleblower to receive an award under the SEC Whistleblower Program since it began in 2011. The total amount awarded to whistleblowers under the program now exceeds $62 million.
The award was significant in that the evidence provided by the whistleblower strengthened an ongoing SEC investigation, rather than forming the basis a new investigation. Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, hoped the award encourage whistleblowers to report potential securities laws violations even if they suspected the Commission may already be investigating the issue: “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.”
As is frequently the case with whistleblower awards, the SEC’s commitment to protecting the whistleblower’s anonymity prohibits the agency from disclosing any information that may reveal a whistleblower’s identity. As such, neither the whistleblower nor the company involved was identified in the SEC’s announcement.
The SEC Whistleblower Program was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which was passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Under the Act, whistleblowers are entitled to receive between 10 and 30 percent of the amount the SEC recovers from wrongdoers as a result of the whistleblower’s original information.