Within just five days of each other, the SEC announced, on November 30 and December 5, 2017, two separate whistleblower awards totaling more than $20 million.
The November 30, 2017 award was made to two whistleblowers for their role in a case that caused the total recovery by the SEC, through its whistleblower award program, to exceed $1 billion. Each whistleblower received $8 million, which puts both in the top-ten highest whistleblower awards made by the SEC. As is customary, the SEC did not reveal much in the way of information about either of the individual whistleblowers or the information they provided. However, the SEC did disclose that each whistleblower came forward separately with information, and the second whistleblower provided ongoing assistance to the agency during its investigation.
The December 5, 2017 whistleblower award was made to a foreign national who the SEC says assisted it in uncovering substantial and longstanding securities law violations at his or her former company. The SEC divulged only that the individual was not a U.S. citizen and that he or she worked for this company’s overseas operations. The total award made to this individual was $4.1 million. In making its award, the SEC took into account this individual’s “unreasonable delay” in reporting the securities law violations but also noted several factors mitigated the informant’s delay: First, much of the individual’s delay in reporting took place before the SEC’s whistleblower award program was launched in 2010; and second, overseas whistleblowers face legal uncertainty, as the anti-retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act may not protect them from adverse employment action.
As of this writing, the SEC has awarded nearly $180 million to individuals through its whistleblower award program.