In a January press release from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblowers, Jane Norberg, confirmed that since the start of FY2021 on October 1st, the SEC had set a record for the amount issued to whistleblowers.
This record includes a $114 million whistleblower award issued at the end of October – by far the largest amount that the SEC has ever awarded. The previous record was nearly $50 million.
Norberg said: “Since the beginning of October, the Commission has awarded 28 individuals over $176 million in whistleblower awards, which already surpasses the total dollar amount awarded in the entirety of any prior fiscal year. We hope these awards continue to encourage individuals with information regarding possible securities laws violations to report to the Commission.”
These numbers demonstrate the continued success of the program, which was created under the Dodd Frank Act. Since its inception in 2011, it has recovered more than $2 billion in financial remedies and awarded more than $738 million to whistleblowers.
These recent awards are particularly promising in light of the recent changes to the whistleblower program approved in September 2020. While the National Whistleblower Center commended the SEC for the improvements in these amendments compared to those proposed in 2018, we were concerned about potential negative effects on whistleblowers, including reduced reward amounts.
However, as the Whistleblower Network News notes in a recent piece, the SEC Office of the Whistleblower has “both utilized its discretionary authority to waive a strict disclosure filing requirement and issued awards for independent analysis” in recent decisions.
This sends a clear message to both whistleblowers and advocates: the SEC continues to be committed to protecting and rewarding whistleblowers. Recent award announcements should encourage securities whistleblowers to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing as this record year continues.