The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday the award of $18 million to a whistleblower, continuing a two-month surge in payouts by the agency that has now seen two of its largest bounties to date.
The $18 million award is the ninth largest in the program’s history and comes 12 days after a $27 million payout that ranks sixth overall. The largest award remains $50 million in March 2018, and the SEC has awarded over $448 million to 81 individuals since 2012.
In its latest payout, the SEC said the whistleblower’s “significant information prompted an examination that resulted in an important enforcement action.” The investigation, led by the SEC’s Office of Compliance, Inspections, and Examinations, concluded in a covered action that resulted in millions of dollars being returned to retail investors.
“Because of this whistleblower’s actions, harmed investors were able to recover millions of dollars in losses,” said Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, in a press release. “This whistleblower stepped forward and helped the agency better protect Main Street investors.”
Though the whistleblower’s information was deemed critical, the SEC noted in its order that exam staff discovered violations broader than what the tipster alleged. “A large portion of the monetary sanctions ordered against the firm related to conduct that was not reported by the Claimant to the Commission,” the agency said.
The SEC added the whistleblower reported the misconduct multiple times internally in an attempt to immediately correct the problem before contacting the Commission. The tipster suffered hardship as a result of his or her internal reporting, according to the SEC.
The award is the ninth doled out by the SEC since Feb. 28. By comparison, the Commission announced eight awards total during fiscal year 2019. SEC whistleblower awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when the penalties exceed $1 million, and all award payments are made through an investor protection fund established by Congress and financed by monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators.
The SEC neither identifies whistleblowers, nor discloses information that could reveal a whistleblower’s identity.