Private citizens are instrumental to helping the SEC enforce securities laws and regulations. When the information that an individual provides leads to a successful enforcement action and monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million, that individual becomes eligible to apply for a reward from the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.
To date, the young program has already paid out more than $63 million in whistleblower rewards with many more expected on the horizon.
Award Date: 21-Aug-2012
Award Amount: $50,000
August 2012 marked the first award ever issued under the SEC’s whistleblower program. The SEC awarded the whistleblower 30% of the amount collected in its enforcement action, the maximum allowable under the law. According to the SEC, the information provided allowed the SEC “to move at an accelerated pace and prevent the fraud from ensnaring additional victims.”
On April 4, 2014, this very same whistleblower who received the first ever award from the OWB received an additional $150,000 from the SEC after the Commission collected additional funds from the defendant.
Award Date: 30-Aug-2012
Award Amount: $125,000
In August 2013, the SEC awarded three whistleblowers $25,000 for information that led to an enforcement action against Locust Offshore Management and its CEO Andrey C. Hicks. The award is expected to increase to $125,000 as more assets are collected from the company and from Hicks and as additional funds are recouped during related criminal actions. This is an important case as it demonstrates that the information an individual provides can be used in both SEC enforcement actions and criminal proceedings, each of which can increase the total award to a potential whistleblower.
Award Date: 01-Oct-2013
Award Amount: $14,000,000
The SEC provided $14 million to a whistleblower whose information led to the recovery of a substantial amount of investor funds. The quality of this whistleblower’s information was so strong that the SEC was able to bring a successful enforcement action against the company within six months, thus leading to the substantial award amount.
In addition, the very same whistleblower who received the $14 million reward received another $140,000 in FY 2014 due to additional amounts being collected from the defendant.
Award Date: 30-Oct-2013
Award Amount: > $150,000
Little information is known about this whistleblower. (S)he wanted to remain completely anonymous and the SEC did not disclose the company about whom (s)he provided information. What is important is that she received the maximum amount allowable under the law (30%) due to the quality of information provided and the enforcement action to be brought.
Award Date: 03-Jun-2014
Award Amount: $875,000
On June 3, 2014, two whistleblowers split an award of $875,000. According to the SEC, “These whistleblowers acted in concert to voluntarily provide information and assistance that helped the SEC bring a successful enforcement action.” This is yet another case illustrating how two individuals can work together to stop fraud upon the government with each getting a share of the award.
Award Date: 16-Jun-2014
Award Amount: Anti-Retailiation Protection
Though not a true “award,” per se, the Commission’s actions on June 16, 2014, show the extent to which it is willing to help protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Here, the SEC found that after the head trader at Paradigm Capital Management blew the whistle on the company, PCM began a campaign to strip him of his job duties and marginalized him. As stated by Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower Sean McKessy, “For whistleblowers to come forward, they must feel assured that they’re protected from retaliation and the law is on their side should it occur. We will continue to exercise our anti-retaliation authority in these and other types of situations where a whistleblower is wrongfully targeted for doing the right thing and reporting a possible securities law violation.” Read More
Award Date: 22-Jul-2014
Award Amount: Unknown
On July 22, 2014, the SEC issued what is referred to as an “award claim.” Therein, it awarded three whistleblowers 30% of the recoveries of an unknown SEC enforcement action. One whistleblower received 15%, another 10%, and a third 5%. Though very little is known about this case, it is helpful for illustrating how three people can work together to stop fraud while all sharing in the government’s recovery.
Award Date: 31-Jul-2014
Award Amount: $400,000
As with other awards, little is known about either the whistleblower and the company. What we do know, however, is very interesting and demonstrative of the SEC’s commitment to rewarding whistleblowers who provide it with valuable information. Here, the company had looked into and closed the matter. As part of the company’s investigation, it requested information from the whistleblower. Normally, Rule 21F-4(a)(1)(ii) under the Exchange Act would preclude the individual from receiving a reward, because the information was not “voluntarily” provided to the SEC. As stated in the 2014 Report to Congress, however, “On the unique facts of this case, however, the Commission found it in the public interest and consistent with the protection of investors to invoke its general exemptive authority under Section 36(a) of the Exchange Act and waive the ‘voluntary’ requirement in order to make an award to the whistleblower.”
Award Date: 29-Aug-2014
Award Amount: $300,000
As with most rewards from the SEC, little is known about the whistleblower, the fraud, or the company for which the whistleblower worked. What is most interesting about this case, however is the fact that the whistleblower performed audit and compliance work for the company.
Award Date: 22-Sep-2014
Award Amount: $30,000,000
Little is known about this award or the circumstances surrounding it. The heavily redacted SEC documents indicate only that the award was made to a foreign tipster who exposed “ongoing fraud that would have been very difficult to detect.” The SEC order also makes clear that, had the whistleblower acted more quickly, he would likely have received an even larger share of the recovered funds.
Award Date: 02-Mar-2015
Award Amount: $475,000
Generally speaking, company officers, directors, trustees, or partners are ineligible to claim rewards. This is true unless, as stated by the SEC, the officer or director reports the information to the SEC more than 120 days after other responsible compliance personnel possessed the information and failed to adequately address the issue. This is the first SEC whistleblower reward where such an officer, director, or trustee has received a reward.
Award Date: 22-Apr-2015
Award Amount: $1.4M+
On April 22, 2015, the SEC awarded more than $1,400,000 to a compliance officer who disclosed information to the SEC about his company’s actions. While the SEC’s press release lauds the employee for coming forth with information to prevent imminent harm, the real lesson learned here is that even individuals working in a compliance function can be eligible for a reward.
Press Release: http://www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2015-73.html
Award Date: 28-Apr-2015
Award Amount: $600,000
In the first retaliation case in which the SEC intervened, a whistleblower will receive more than $600,000 for providing information leading to an SEC enforcement action. In an emphatic defense of whistleblowers everywhere, Sean Mckessy, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, stated that, “Retaliation against whistleblowers is entirely unacceptable… My hope is that the award today encourages potential whistleblowers to come forward in light of our demonstrated commitment to protect them against retaliatory conduct and make significant financial awards to whistleblowers who suffer employment hardships as a result of reporting possible securities law violations.” This award sends a strong message to employers that the Commission will not tolerate companies retaliating against employees for reporting information to the agency.
Press Release: https://www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2015-75.html
Award Date: 07-Jul-2015
Award Amount: > $3,000,000
On July 17, 2015, the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower announced the issuance of a $3 million reward to a whistleblower. Very little information is known about this case except that, according to the SEC, the “company insider” “helped the SEC crack a complex fraud.” Given the size of the award – the third largest in the history of office – it must be assumed that the individual provided a clear roadmap of the fraud and that the recovery by the SEC was somewhere between $30 and $90 million.
Award Date: 05-Nov-2015
Award Amount: $325,000
On November 5, 2015, the SEC issued a whistleblower an award of $325,000 to an investment firm employee for disclosing information that led to a successful enforcement action. As with other rewards, from the SEC, not much is known about this whistleblower. But, despite not knowing the whistleblower’s or company’s identity, there are still important lessons to be learned from this case. Specifically, the SEC’s announcement indicated that the whistleblower would have been eligible for an even greater reward if he had not “hesitated” in bringing his information to the SEC. While we will never know how long the whistleblower held on to the information before coming forward, this case underscores the importance of promptly reporting your information to the SEC.
Award Date: 15-Jan-2016
Award Amount: $700,000
In a first for the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, a whistleblower received a reward for conducting and providing an independent analysis that led to a successful SEC enforcement action. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this award is that the whistleblower did not, in fact, work for the company. Instead, the whistleblower, referred to as an “industry expert,” reviewed publicly available data and was able to provide invaluable analysis and information to the SEC.
Award Date: 08-Mar-2016
Award Amount: $2,000,000
On March 8, 2016, the SEC awarded approximately $2 million to a group of three whistleblowers who provided information to the SEC. Though the SEC keeps confidential both the individuals who disclosed the information as well as the company against whom the enforcement action was made, it did release some interesting information that can help guide whistleblowers in the future. First, $1.8 million of the total reward was paid to a single whistleblower. The SEC determined that the “relative contribution” of this whistleblower’s information to the enforcement action was greater than the other two and warranted a greater reward. Second, and perhaps of even greater significance, the SEC denied altogether the reward to a fourth individual because it concluded that the whistleblower, himself, had made false representations to the SEC over a period of several years. This award underscores two important points. First, it is important to get your information into the SEC quickly but equally important to provide high quality information. Second, where the SEC determines that the whistleblower, himself, has engaged in fraudulent conduct, it is possible that the SEC will decline to issue him a reward.
Award Date: 17-Apr-2016
Award Amount: $275,000
On April 7, 2016, the SEC ordered that a whistleblower was to receive approximately $275,000 for information that she provided to the SEC which led to an enforcement action against an unidentified company. In an interesting turn of events, the SEC found that the whistleblower, herself, was intricately connected to the wrongdoing and liable in the same or a related matter. Accordingly, the SEC determined that, while it was going to issue the whistleblower a $275,000 reward, that amount would be offset by any unpaid amount that the whistleblower owed in connection to the other matter for which she was found to be liable.
Award Date: 13-May-2016
Award Amount: $3,500,000
On May 13, 2016, the SEC issued an award of $3.5 million to a whistleblower who, according to the SEC, helped to “bolster an ongoing investigation.” As stated by the Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, Andrew Ceresney, “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.”
Award Date: 17-May-2016
Award Amount: $5,000,000
In the third highest award to a whistleblower to date, the SEC announced on May 17, 2016, that it would provide a $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 award to an individual who, according to the SEC, “led the agency to uncover securities violations that would have been nearly impossible for it to detect but for the whistleblower’s information.” As with all other cases, the SEC, in an effort to protect the identity of its whistleblowers, does not provide information about the whistleblower or the company at issue.
Award Date: 20-May-2016
Award Amount: $450,000
On May 20, 2016, the SEC, in its third award of the week, awarded $450,000 to two individuals for their disclosures concerning an ongoing corporate accounting investigation. Particularly interesting with this award, the SEC noted that the two whistlelbowers provided “valuable assistance as [the SEC] proceeded with its investigation.” This shows that, once a whistleblower discloses information to the government, his or her role is not over. Often, the SEC will want to continue working with those whistleblowers and, in doing so, the whistleblowers may ultimately increase the amount of any reward that they receive.
Award Date: 09-Jun-2016
Award Amount: $17,000,000
On June 9, 2016, the SEC issued its second largest reward to date, providing $17 million to a whistleblower who helped the SEC by providing a “detailed tip substantially advanc[ing] the agency’s investigation and ultimate enforcement action.” As with other rewards, the SEC has kept secret the identity of both the company and the whistleblower.
Award Date: 30-Jun-2016
Award Amount: $22,500,000
On August 30, 2016, the SEC awarded a former executive from Monsanto $22.5 million for alerting the SEC to possible accounting violations related to the company’s weed-killer, Roundup. Interestingly, this is one of the few times where the SEC has disclosed the identity of the company alleged to have engaged in securities fraud.
Award Date: 14-Nov-2016
Award Amount: $20,000,000
On November 14, 2016, the SEC issued a $20 million award to a whistleblower who enabled the agency to secure “a near-total recovery” of investor funds. Though the SEC declined to identify the whistleblower, this shows how important it is to come forward with information quickly.
Award Date: 05-Dec-2016
Award Amount: $3,500,000
On December 5, 2016, the SEC continued its streak of providing whistleblowers with multi-million dollar rewards for information that leads to successful enforcement actions. In this case, the SEC awarded a whistleblower $3.5 million for coming forward with information. No additional information was provided by the SEC due to the SEC’s policy of protecting the identity of whistleblowers.
Award Date: 06-Jan-2017
Award Amount: $5,500,000
On January 6, 2017, the SEC showed that it was willing to be flexible in its interpretation of its own rules by providing a whistleblower with a $5.5 million reward despite the fact that the whistleblower did not provide his information in writing. This was an unusual case and should not be construed as giving would-be whistleblowers a green light to proceed without lodging written tips with the SEC. Rather, it shows that the SEC will act in accordance with the equities of a given case.
For more information about eligibility and how to collect a reward, please visit: Claim a Reward