National Whistleblower Day

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a whistleblower award of approximately $2 million given to an individual who provided “extraordinary” assistance to an investigation. The whistleblower did so despite facing retaliation and hardships as a result of their whistleblowing.

The SEC’s award announcement stated that the whistleblowers’ heroic efforts included overcoming “certain obstacles” and “threats” to present information to the SEC that “would have been difficult for the agency to obtain absent the tip.”

“The whistleblower’s actions in this matter were extraordinary,” said Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “The whistleblower expeditiously reported the information to the Commission and provided valuable assistance despite implied threats from the wrongdoers.”

In determining the amount of the whistleblower award, the SEC found that:

  • Claimant provided significant new information during the course of an ongoing investigation that would have been difficult for the staff to obtain in the absence of the Claimant’s tip;
  • (ii) Claimant expeditiously reported the information to the Commission despite certain obstacles to reporting and provided valuable assistance to the investigative staff;
  • Claimant assisted with the Commission’s investigation despite implied threats made to Claimant;
  • Claimant suffered hardships as a result of Claimant’s whistleblowing;
  • And the law-enforcement interests here are high.

The whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act require the SEC to protect the identity of any whistleblower who wishes to remain anonymous. A whistleblower who would like to stay anonymous must hire an attorney to file the complaint on their behalf. Because rewards can only be paid based on “original” information, the whistleblower who first alerts the Commission to a potential violation stands the most definite chance of obtaining the most substantial reward.

Since issuing its first whistleblower award in 2012, the SEC Office of the Whistleblower has awarded $398 million to 78 individuals. Whistleblower awards can range between 10 and 30 percent of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million.

Read the SEC press release: SEC Awards Approximately $2 Million to Whistleblower.

Read the SEC order