A whistleblower has been awarded $27 million by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the largest award this year and the sixth-largest payout ever.
The whistleblower tipped off the SEC about misconduct “occurring, in part, overseas,” then provided investigative leads “that advanced the investigation and saved significant Commission resources,” according to the agency’s news release.
The SEC has now awarded approximately $425 million to 79 individuals since issuing its first award in 2012. Rewards are typically 10 to 30 percent of money collected, if the amount is over $1 million.
All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators and does not represent money taken or withheld from harmed investors.
The SEC does not disclose any information that might reveal the whistleblower’s identity.
Critics of the SEC’s whistleblower program say the program rarely rewards tipsters but still collects valuable information that it uses in prosecutions. Since August 2011, the Commission has received over 33,300 whistleblower tips, according to a 2019 report on the SEC’s whistleblower program, leaving the percentage of whistleblowers who receive rewards at below 1 percent.