The SEC announced today that after more than five years as the first-ever chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower,Sean McKessy plans to leave the agency this month. McKessy joined the SEC to head up its new whistleblower program in February 2011, and has helped get the program on strong footing. Since its inception, the Office of the Whistleblower has now awarded more than $85 million to 32 whistleblowers, including five awards totalling more than $26 million in the last two months.

The Office of the Whistleblower was established under Dodd-Frank in 2010, and issued its first award in August 2012. The SEC stated that since it inception, the Office has now:

reviewed more than 14,000 whistleblower tips from individuals in every state in the country, as well as the District of Columbia and 95 foreign countries;

brought successful enforcement actions based on the information and assistance provided by whistleblowers in which more than $504 million was ordered in sanctions, including more than $346 million in disgorgement and interest for harmed investors; and

collected more than $453 million as the result of whistleblower actions and successful related actions. 

The SEC also emphasized the work the Office has done under McKessy to bring actions "to ensure that employees feel secure in reporting wrongdoing to the SEC, without fear of reprisal from their employers." Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, said that the whistleblower program has had a "transformative impact" on the agency, and called McKessy "a staunch advocate for whistleblowers, a relentless promoter of the program, and an invaluable advisor on these issues.” The SEC stated that Jane Norberg, the Office of the Whistleblower’s current deputy chief, will serve as acting chief following McKessy’s departure.


As I noted here, as recently as three years ago, the SEC's Office of the Whistleblower faced questions about whether it would thrive and become a successful tool for the SEC. McKessy helped lead the Office through these growing pains to become a very important piece of the SEC's enforcement program, and he leaves the agency with the Office on the right track.