Over the past week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced two multi-million dollar awards to whistleblowers who provided the SEC with information in ongoing investigations.
On May 13, 2016, the SEC announced that it had awarded $3.5 million dollars to a whistleblower who provided useful information for an “ongoing investigation.” Then, on May 17, 2016, the SEC announced that it will issue an award between $5 and $6 million, its third highest in history, to another whistleblower. According to the SEC, a “former company insider” provided a detailed tip which “led the agency to uncover securities violations that would have been nearly impossible for it to detect but for the whistleblower’s information.” Andrew Ceresney, Director of Enforcement for the SEC stated that when employees – who are often well-positioned to identify wrongdoing – “report specific and credible tips to us, [the SEC] will leverage that inside knowledge to advance [its] enforcement of the securities laws and better protect investors and the marketplace.”
These two awards reaffirm the SEC’s intent to encourage whistleblowers to come forward and provide useful information to the agency. They further highlight the fact that the Securities Exchange Act, as amended by Dodd-Frank, and its implementing regulations authorize the SEC to provide a monetary award to a whistleblower who provides the SEC with new information prompting a new or renewed investigation or “significantly contributes to the success” of an enforcement action.