The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday announced it would award $450,000 to a whistleblower with compliance-related responsibilities.
The SEC notes it’s the third award in the history of its program to be given to an individual with compliance or internal audit duties. The SEC has awarded over $396 million to 77 individuals since issuing its first award in 2012.
In this case, the compliance tipster’s information helped refocus an ongoing investigation on the violations that were ultimately charged. The whistleblower waited more than 120 days after reporting the misconduct internally to bring it to the attention of the SEC—an exception that allowed him or her to become eligible for an award despite Exchange Act Rule restrictions upon compliance employees.
“To ensure that important information about securities laws violations is reported to the SEC when appropriate corrective action is not taken by the company, the rules permit awards to compliance professionals in certain limited circumstances,” said Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, in a news release. “Here, the whistleblower made reasonable efforts to work within the company’s compliance structure, suffered unique hardships as a result, and reported to the Commission after the requisite time period had passed, ultimately providing meaningful assistance to the Commission’s investigation and subsequent enforcement action.”
The “unique hardships” the whistleblower suffered are redacted in the SEC’s order. The SEC neither identifies whistleblowers, nor discloses information that could reveal a whistleblower’s identity.
SEC whistleblower awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when the penalties exceed $1 million. 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 has issued four whistleblower awards in the last eight days and seven total this year. The Commission awarded eight individuals total in 2019.