Three’s Company: SEC Awards Nearly $2 Million to Whistleblower Trio

On March 8, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued an order awarding a trio of whistleblowers a bounty of almost $2 million.

One whistleblower will receive the lion’s share of the bounty — $1.8 million — for providing the original information that led to the SEC initiating the investigation and for providing valuable information to the agency throughout the process.  The other two whistleblowers will receive just over $65,000 each for providing information after the SEC’s investigation had commenced.

In making this award, the SEC adopted the preliminary determination of its Claims Review Staff.  The SEC explained that it based the award on the factors outlined in Rule 21F-6 and considered the “relative contribution of the Claimants to the success of the Covered Action.”  Notably, the Claims Review Staff in its preliminary determination also denied a fourth individual’s award claim because it concluded the claimant had knowingly and willfully made false, fictitious, or fraudulent representations to the SEC over a period of several years.

Sean X. McKessy, Chief of the Office of the Whistleblower, added in an SEC press release, “We’re seeing a significant uptick in whistleblower tips over prior years, and we believe that’s attributable to increased public awareness of our program and the tens of millions of dollars we’ve paid to whistleblowers for information that helped us bring successful enforcement actions.”  Since the whistleblower program’s inception in 2011, the SEC has now paid more than $57 million to 26 whistleblowers.