A pair of whistleblowers were awarded over $50 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday for helping the agency uncover violations involving complex transactions that “would have been difficult to detect without their information.”
The tips were the result of numerous interviews between the two whistleblowers and SEC investigators and were supported by extensive documentation. The information led to a covered action that “resulted in the return of tens of millions of dollars to harmed investors,” the SEC said in a press release.
“Today’s award is the second largest in the history of the program, reflecting the tremendous contribution of these joint whistleblowers to our ability to recover funds for harmed investors,” said Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. Norberg recently announced she will leave the SEC by the end of the month. The office’s deputy chief, Emily Pasquinelli, will serve as acting chief.
Only seven months into fiscal year 2021, the program has awarded approximately $250 million to whistleblowers, already the most ever paid out in one year. In fiscal year 2020, the SEC issued $175 million in awards.
The order for Thursday’s joint award noted there was a third whistleblower who tried to claim a share but was denied. That whistleblower “provided no information that contributed to the success of the Covered Action,” the order said.
The SEC has now awarded approximately $812 million to 151 individuals since 2012. All payments are made from an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators.
Whistleblower awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million. As with this case, whistleblowers can report jointly under the program and share an award.
The SEC neither identifies whistleblowers, nor discloses information that could reveal a whistleblower’s identity.