The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced October 1, 2013, that it awarded more than $14 million to a whistleblower. This is the largest award rendered by the SEC Office of the Whistleblower which was established in 2011 under the Dodd-Frank Act. The whistleblower, who has not been identified, provided information to the SEC that allowed the SEC to quickly investigate an unidentified enforcement action, thereby enabling the agency to recover substantial investor funds. The SEC further stated that this is its third payment to a whistleblower.
SEC Chairman Mary Jo White said, "Our whistleblower program already has had a big impact on our investigations by providing us with high quality, meaningful tips … [w]e hope an award like this encourages more individuals with information to come forward."
News of this award will no doubt bring attention to the whistleblower program and encourage more whistleblowing complaints by employees. Employers subject to the Dodd-Frank Act — generally publicly traded companies with shares registered with the SEC — may wish to revisit their internal compliance and employee reporting programs and step up efforts to encourage employees to report complaints and concerns directly to the employer prior to taking those complaints and concerns to the SEC.