Today the SEC announced that it is issuing a whistleblower award of over $14 million to a whistleblower who provided information that resulted in the recovery of investor funds. The significant whistleblower award comes after many critics have questioned the success of the SEC’s whistleblower award program which, to date, has only issued two much smaller awards since the program’s inception in 2011. The first award payment was issued in August 2012 for approximately $50,000. The second award, paid to three whistleblowers for information that stopped a sham hedge fund, has paid out approximately $25,000 with an expected total payout of $125,000.
The SEC gave no details about the company involved, the nature of the enforcement action or what percentage of the fine was paid to the whistleblower. (Dodd-Frank provides for a bounty of 10-30% of the fine levied by the SEC in a “covered action,” defined as one that results in monetary sanctions exceeding $ 1 million). The release stated: “The whistleblower, who does not wish to be identified, provided original information and assistance that allowed the SEC to investigate an enforcement matter more quickly than otherwise would have been possible. Less than six months after receiving the whistleblower’s tip, the SEC was able to bring an enforcement action against the perpetrators and secure investor funds.”
It remains to be seen if the SEC will provide more information about the nature of the award in the coming days. In the meantime, the SEC appears to have answered critics, at least for now, who have said that the Dodd-Frank bounty program is a toothless tiger.