The SEC announced that its largest ever whistleblower award estimated to be worth more than $30 million will be paid to a resident of a foreign country. While the eligibility of foreign residents for a whistleblower award may seem obvious to many, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the anti-retaliation provisions in Section 21F of the Exchange Act do not apply to a foreign whistleblower who experienced employment retaliation overseas after making certain reports about his foreign employer. The SEC does not see the conclusions as being inconsistent because the whistleblower award provisions have a different Congressional focus than the anti-retaliation provisions, which are generally focused on preventing retaliatory employment actions and protecting the employment relationship.
According to the SEC, this is the fourth award to a whistleblower living in a foreign country. That means almost 30% of whistleblowers who have had awards granted to date are not US residents.
Also of note is the SEC awarded the huge pot of cash despite the SEC’s finding that the whistleblower unreasonably delayed reporting the matter to the SEC.