The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday announced its largest-ever whistleblower award at nearly $279 million—more than double the agency’s previous record bounty.
The payout is to one individual; two others who tried to claim shares of the award had their petitions denied. The SEC does not reveal details related to whistleblower cases that might identify the award recipient, including the enforcement action the tipster provided information regarding.
Whistleblower awards range from 10 to 30 percent of monetary sanctions collected from an enforcement case.
The $279 million award is believed to be the largest received by an individual in U.S. history. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission in October 2021 announced a payout of nearly $200 million to an individual, an award that nearly crippled the agency’s Consumer Protection Fund and required the intervention of Congress to facilitate.
The SEC’s previous record award was $114 million issued in October 2020.
“The size of today’s award … not only incentivizes whistleblowers to come forward with accurate information about potential securities law violations but also reflects the tremendous success of our whistleblower program,” said Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a press release.
In its order detailing the award consideration process, the SEC said the whistleblower receiving the payout provided “significant” information that allowed the agency to expand an investigation already in progress. The whistleblower offered “substantial, ongoing assistance, which included multiple written submissions, communications, and interviews.” The agency noted the information came after its investigation began and only related to certain of the conduct ultimately charged in the case, suggesting the tipster might not have received the maximum award available.
The two individuals whose claims were denied did not contribute to the success of agency’s action, the SEC said, and the information they provided did not affect the course of the case’s investigation process.
The SEC has awarded more than $1 billion to whistleblowers since 2012. All payments are made from an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the agency by securities law violators.
The $279 million award surpasses the total of $229 million distributed across 103 SEC whistleblower awards in all of fiscal year 2022.