May 9, 2023. On Friday, May 5th, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its largest-ever whistleblower award – $279 million. This astounding figure is an indication of the importance that whistleblowers play in enforcing securities laws and protecting investors. The SEC sets the bar high for whistleblowers when it comes to eligibility for awards. To be eligible, they must provide the SEC with original, credible, and timely information that leads to a successful enforcement action, while adhering to the filing requirements set forth in the whistleblower rules. If the sanctions collected exceed $1 million, whistleblowers can receive an award ranging from 10% to 30% of the money collected.
This new award, at $279 million, is a significant increase from the previous record high award of $114 million, which was awarded in October 2020. Per the Dodd-Frank Act, whistleblower award monies come entirely from sanctions paid by securities law violators; funds that belong to investors or those harmed by securities fraud are not used to pay whistleblowers.
The SEC takes the confidentiality of whistleblowers very seriously. As mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, it does not disclose any information that could potentially reveal a whistleblower’s identity. This anonymity gives whistleblowers the confidence to step forward and report securities law violations, without the fear of retaliation or retribution.
As such, the actual order for whistleblower awards is heavily redacted. There were three whistleblowers for the “covered action,” though the SEC only awarded one, as it found the second and third claimants’ information did not lead “to the successful enforcement of the Covered Action.” The first claimant’s information, according to the Order, assisted the SEC in expanding the scope of their investigation and provided ongoing useful support. It is interesting to note that the whistleblower’s information did not initiate the investigation, as the SEC had “already become aware of potential misconduct by the Company.” Another government agency is also pursuing this company and awarding the whistleblower for “related actions.”
The fact that the SEC continues to make large whistleblower awards highlights the importance of reporting securities law violations. By incentivizing whistleblowers, the SEC is able to track down more financial fraud and wrongdoing, ultimately protecting investors and maintaining confidence in the securities markets.
If you would like to report securities, commodities, or banking fraud, you can contact attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP. Eva Gunasekera and Renée Brooker are former officials of the United States Department of Justice and prosecuted whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act. Renée served as Assistant Director at the United States Department of Justice, the office that supervises False Claims Act cases in all 94 United States District Courts. Eva was the Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud. Eva and Renée now represent whistleblowers. For a free consultation, you can contact Renée at [email protected] (tel.: 202-417-3664) or contact Eva Gunasekera at [email protected]. You can also go to Tycko & Zavareei LLP’s website for whistleblowers to learn more at https://www.fraudfighters.net/.