The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently revealed a payment of more than $1 million to a whistleblower who supplied details that led to an effective SEC enforcement action versus an “authorized entity” (e.g., a broker-dealer) that “affected retail clients.” The SEC revealed the award while keeping the information of the enforcement action, the whistleblower, and the overall charge under covers, in a redaction-filled Order Determining Whistleblower Award Claim.
Since the beginning of its whistleblower program in 2011, the SEC has granted more than $162 million to almost 50 people. The SEC’s biggest award to this day was over $30 million in September 2014, and the typical payment has been more than $3 million. According to the SEC, whistleblower ideas have caused effective enforcement actions leading to over $1 billion in financial sanctions.
The SEC’s whistleblower program was produced by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2011 to motivate those with info about securities law infractions to report to the SEC. The Act developed the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower and put in place procedures for fielding and examining suggestions. If a whistleblower offers “premium initial info” that results in an enforcement action where financial sanctions go beyond $1 million, the SEC will issue a bounty equal to 10 to 30 percent of the sanctions. The program has shown extremely effective at motivating those with possibly useful info to go to the SEC: In 2016 alone, the Office of the Whistleblower got 4,218 suggestions, around 12 each day.