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Monday
May232016

SEC announces third whistleblower award this month, two individuals split $450,000

The Securities and Exchange Commission awarded more than $450,000 jointly to two individuals Friday for a tip that led the SEC to open a corporate accounting investigation and for their help once the investigation was underway.

The whistleblower award is the third announced by the SEC during May, bringing the month's payouts to $10 million, the agency said.

“The recent flurry of awards reflects the high-quality nature of the tips the SEC is receiving as public awareness of the whistleblower program grows,” Sean McKessy, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said in a statement Friday.

 “These two individuals not only submitted valuable tips to help open our investigation but also provided valuable assistance as we proceeded," McKessy said.

On May 17, the SEC awarded between $5 million and $6 million to a whistleblower whose information led the SEC to uncover securities violations which would have been “nearly impossible to detect” without the company insider’s help.

The award was the third highest ever granted under the SEC whistleblower program since the program’s inception in 2011.

On May 13, the SEC awarded a whistleblower more than $3.5 million for producing evidence against his or her company during an ongoing investigation "that strengthened the SEC's case."

In that case, the SEC first denied an award to the whistleblower because the informaiton related to an investigation that had already started.

After the whistleblower appealed, the SEC reversed its decision.

By law, the SEC has to protect the confidentiality of whistleblowers and not disclose information that might reveal a whistleblower’s identity.

The agency has now awarded more than $68 million to 31 whistleblowers since the program started in 2011. 

The biggest award so far was more than $30 million in 2014. A 2013 award topped $14 million.

Whistleblowers can be eligible for awards when they voluntarily provide the SEC with "unique and useful information that leads to a successful enforcement action."

Awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of recoveries when amounts collected are more than $1 million.

The SEC received more than 4,000 tips last year.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He'll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.