15 June 2016 - Post by:Kurt Wolfe
The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Office of the Whistleblower has been busy over the past several weeks. In May, the Office announced two of its largest-ever whistleblower bounty payments. And last week, the Whistleblower Office announced the second-highest award in the program’s history.
On June 9, the SEC’s Whistleblower Office announced a $17 million award ‘to a former company employee whose detailed tip substantially advanced the agency’s investigation and ultimate enforcement action’. According to the whistleblower’s attorney, the case involved ‘a major player in the financial services industry’.
Notably, in this case the SEC rewarded a whistleblower who came forward with information relating to an ongoing investigation. According to the SEC’s Order approving the $17 million award, the whistleblower provided ‘additional information of which enforcement staff were previously unaware that substantially advanced their investigation’.
This marks only the fourth time the SEC has rewarded a whistleblower for a tip relating to an investigation that was already underway.
The SEC again used the headline-grabbing award as a call to arms to would be whistleblowers. Sean McKessy, Chief of the SEC’s Whistleblower Office, explained that ‘[i]n the past five months, five whistleblowers have received a total of more than $26 million, and we hope these substantial awards encourage other individuals … to make the right choice to come forward and report wrongdoing to the SEC’. The SEC has now awarded more than $85 million to 32 whistleblowers since the program’s inception in 2011.
The whistleblower’s attorney mirrored that sentiment, noting that ‘Each significant monetary award raises the profile of the SEC whistleblower program and the number of people willing to come forth. It’s a good day for the program. It rewarded someone for having the courage to speak up’.
The SEC’s whistleblower program continues to attract attention. And we will continue to update our readers on noteworthy developments coming out of the SEC’s Whistleblower Office.