On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced an award of more than $20 million to a whistleblower who “promptly came forward with valuable information that enabled the Commission to move quickly and initiate an enforcement action against wrongdoers before they could squander the money.”

The $20 million award is the third highest since the SEC’s whistleblower program issued its first award in 2012.  The program has now awarded more than $130 million to whistleblowers who voluntarily provided the SEC with unique and useful information that led to a successful enforcement action.

By law, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose information that might directly or indirectly reveal a whistleblower’s identity. Due to those protections, scant information was provided on details of the underlying enforcement action.

“This whistleblower alerted us with a valuable tip that led to a near total recovery of investor funds,” said Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “Sizeable awards like this one should encourage whistleblowers everywhere that there are real financial incentives to promptly reporting potential securities law violations to the SEC.”

Whistleblower awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million.  All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators.  No money has been taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards.

A list of the SEC’s top 10 whistleblower awards can be found here.