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SEC $30 Million Whistleblower Award is Largest Yet

Sep 23, 2014

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that a foreign whistleblower will collect an award of more than $30 million, more than twice the highest previous award.

The SEC did not identify the tipster, where the person is from, or what case the award is connected to, the Wall Street Journal reports. Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC's enforcement division, said, "this whistleblower came to us with information about an ongoing fraud that would have been very difficult to detect." The award, somewhere between $30 and $35 million, could have been even larger if the whistleblower had acted sooner, according to the SEC. The agency reduced the award because the whistleblower delayed reporting the misconduct after learning of it.

While non-U.S. residents are eligible for whistleblower awards, they are not protected by the non-retaliation protections afforded U.S. citizens under the Dodd-Frank Act. In fiscal 2013, the whistleblower program received tips from people in 55 foreign countries, according to the agency, most frequently from the United Kingdom, Canada and China, the WSJ reports.

Under the SEC whistleblower program, established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law, a tipster can receive between 10 and 30 percent of the amount of penalties collected if the information leads to an SEC enforcement action with sanctions of more than $1 million. To keep whistleblower identities secret, the agency typically shares little information about the tipster or the case when announcing an award, according to the WSJ.

A $14 million award paid to a whistleblower for a tip about an alleged Chicago-based scheme to defraud foreign investors seeking U.S. residency was the previous largest award, according to the WSJ.

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