SEC Whistleblower Reward

The SEC Whistleblower Program offers a large reward for informing the Security Exchange Commission of a security violation. The SEC can award up to 30 percent of the sanctions to the whistleblower. The system is designed to encourage more whistleblowing if those with knowledge of security law violations believe they will be largely compensated for revealing the wrongdoing.

The award program offers 10 to 30 percent of the sanctions if you follow the program guidelines for reporting and making a claim and qualify. If the award is below $5 million and you do not fit the conditions for an award reduction, the SEC now intends to award the statutory maximum of 30 percent in most cases. This presumption of the maximum award is intended to assist the SEC in making faster award determinations.

Please note that you will need an attorney if you wish to proceed anonymously while also receiving a reward. While you can tip off the SEC anonymously, you cannot make a SEC whistleblower reward claim anonymously without an attorney to act on your behalf.

To speak with a whistleblower attorney about making a claim, contact Schneider Wallace at 1-800-689-0024 or info@schneiderwallace.com.

SEC Largest Whistleblower Reward

The SEC announced in November 2020 the largest whistleblower reward in SEC history: $114 million.  The $114 million was a combined reward from separate $52 million and $62 million awards stemming from the same whistleblower tip.  Your tip can result in multiple awards if it results in multiple cases against multiple defendants.

Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said:

“The actions of the whistleblower awarded today were extraordinary. After repeatedly reporting concerns internally, and despite personal and professional hardships, the whistleblower alerted the SEC and the other agency of the wrongdoing and provided substantial, ongoing assistance that proved critical to the success of the actions.”

The previous largest award was $50 million, also awarded in 2020. Notable large SEC awards:

Largest Whistleblower Rewards, Total:

$112 million November 2020
$83 million March 2018
$54 million September 2018
$50 million March 2019
$50 million June 2020

Largest Individual Awards (whistleblowers can receive more than one award):

$62 million November 2020
$52 million November 2020
$50 million June 2020
$50 million March 2018
$39 million September 2018
$37 million March 2019
$33 million March 2018
$30 million September 2014
$27 million April 2020
$22 million September 2020
$22 million August 2016
$20 million November 2016

SEC Whistleblower Rewards in 2020

In the 2020 fiscal year, which runs through October 2020, the Security Exchange Commission rewarded 39 whistleblowers with $175 million. This brings the total awards to date of $562 million to 106 individuals, through October 2020. With the addition of the $112 million awarded in November, the total to date is now $674 million.

In addition to the $112 million November 2020 award – the largest in SEC history – the SEC has also noted these recent awards:

Nearly $50 Million Awarded to Whistleblower

On June 4, 2020, the Commission announced a nearly $50 million whistleblower award to an individual who provided detailed, firsthand observations of misconduct by a company, which resulted in a successful enforcement action that returned a significant amount of money to harmed investors. This was, at the time, the largest amount ever awarded to one individual under the SEC’s whistleblower program.1 On October 22, 2020, the Commission issued an award of over $114 million, which is the largest award in the program’s history, eclipsing the $50 million award made to the individual in June 2020.

Almost $30 Million Awarded to Two Whistleblowers

On September 30, 2020, the Commission announced an award of almost $30 million to two insider whistleblowers whose tips led SEC staff to open an investigation. The frrst whistleblower, who was the first to alert SEC staff of potential wrongdoing and provided substantial, ongoing assistance, received an award of approximately $22 million. The second whistleblower provided additional valuable information and received an award of approximately $7 million. The information and assistance provided by the whistleblowers helped the agency return tens of millions of dollars to harmed retail investors.2

Over $27 Million Awarded to Whistleblower

On April 3, 2020, the Commission announced an award of more than $27 million to a whistleblower who alerted the agency to misconduct occurring, in part, overseas. After providing the tip to the Commission, the whistleblower provided critical investigative leads that advanced the investigation and saved significant Commission resources. 3

Over $18 Million Awarded to Whistleblower

On April 28, 2020, the Commission announced an award of more than $18 million to a whistleblower whose significant information prompted an examination that resulted in an important enforcement action. The whistleblower repeatedly reported the problem internally before contacting the SEC and suffered hardships as a result of the internal reporting. Because of this whistleblower’s actions, harmed investors were able to recover millions of dollars in losses.4

1 See Order Determining Whistleblower Award Claim, Exchange Act Rel. No. 89002, File No. 2020-20 (June 4, 2020); SEC Press Rel. No. 2020-126, “SEC Awards Record Payout of Nearly $50 Million to Whistleblower.”

2 See Order Determining Whistleblower Award Claim, Exchange Act Rel. No. 90049, File No. 2020-36 (Sept. 30, 2020); SEC Press Rel. No. 2020-239, “SEC Awards Almost $30 Million to Two Insider Whistleblowers.”

3 See Order Determining Whistleblower Award Claim, Exchange Act Rel. No. 88658, File No. 2020-13 (Apr. 16, 2020); SEC Press Rel. No. 2020-89, “SEC Awards Over $27 Million to Whistleblower.”

4 See Order Determining Whistleblower Award Claims, Exchange Act Rel. No. 88759, File No. 2020-

Who Can Qualify for a Whistleblower Reward?

Whistleblowers can receive an award as long as they take certain steps and fit the criteria for a reward:

  • The whistleblower must volunteer the information. You cannot place a claim for information given during testimony, during a deposition, or other information the SEC deems was not a voluntary release.
  • The whistleblower can receive an award, even if the SEC is already investigating, if the information significantly contributes to the SEC’s success at collecting sanctions. Unlike other programs such as the False Claims Act, there is no requirement to be “first”.
  • The whistleblower can receive an award regardless of their position. You do not need to be “inside” the company or the misconduct, only that you have knowledge of it that proves helpful to the SEC’s prosecution.
  • You do not need to be a citizen of the United States. Some whistleblower awards are given to foreign nationals including foreigners who had knowledge of overseas fraud that affected U.S. investors.
  • Employees can be whistleblowers and do not need to report first to their employers.
  • Auditors are typically required to have reported their findings internally or to their employers, and if no action is taken the information be used as part of a reward claim.
  • Attorneys and compliance officers also have additional requirements to first report the wrongdoing upon discovery. If no action is taken, reports or tips to the SEC can result in awards. Attorneys have additional consideration as the SEC does not ask and does not want attorneys to violate attorney-client privilege.
  • The government does not need to be harmed by the violation. Unlike the False Claims Act whistleblower program and other government whistleblower programs, the SEC is not working to investigate government spending fraud, but rather fraud affecting the U.S. financial markets and U.S. investors.
  • Anonymous whistleblowers can receive an award. You will need an attorney to act on your behalf if you wish to remain anonymous but receive an award.
  • The whistleblower must submit forms to the SEC Whistleblower Program to be eligible. You cannot make a claim based on something such as a telephone call. The program has a process that must be followed to receive an award.
  • The SEC can reduce awards based on Rule 21F-6(b) because of:
    • (1) the culpability of the whistleblower;
    • (2) unreasonable delay in reporting; or
    • (3) interference with an internal compliance and reporting system.
  • A whistleblower can still be eligible for an award even if they are culpable in the wrongdoing. The SEC may reduce an award for culpability, but it does not bar a whistleblower from seeking an award. An award can also be reduced for unreasonable delay in reporting. As such, anyone with knowledge of security violations should speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
  • The largest cause of reduced awards from the maximum of 30% is “unreasonable delay”. If you are aware of security violations, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

How Long Does The Award Process Take?

The time between the initial tip to the SEC and obtaining an award varies, but it is typical for the process to take a couple years. The prosecution of any case from a whistleblower tip can take some time, especially if the case is complex, and, as rewards are based upon final paid sanctions, the award process and finalization can only occur after the SEC’s prosecution is complete.

SEC Whistleblower Award Help

The experienced attorneys at Schneider Wallace are ready to speak to you about your whistleblower claim and assist you in reporting to the SEC and remaining anonymous if you prefer to do so.

To speak with a whistleblower attorney at Schneider Wallace, contact us at 1-800-689-0024 or info@schneiderwallace.com

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