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Top 10 Lists: SEC Whistleblower Awards

Whistleblower AttorneyThe passing of the federal government’s fiscal year (FY) 2016, which ran from October 1, 2015, to September 30, 2016, marked a historic occasion: SEC whistleblower awards exceeded the $57 million mark, with the money given to 13 whistleblowers. Since the program began roughly five years ago, the SEC had awarded $111 million to 34 whistleblowers by the end of FY 2016. If we extend the time period to the end of December, 2016, the awards total $135 million and were granted to 36 whistleblowers.

Top 10 SEC Awards of All Time

In the 2016 Annual Report to Congress on the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the top ten SEC awards since the inception of the program included six that were from FY 2016. The FY 2016 awards are bolded in the list below. The complete list of the top 10 all-time awards as of September 30, 2016, with dates and amounts, is as follows:

  1. September 2014: $30 million
  2. August 2016: $22 million
  3. June 2016: $17 million
  4. September 2013: $14 million
  5. May 2016: $5 million to $6 million
  6. September 2016: $4 million
  7. May 2016: $3.5 million
  8. July 2015: $3 million
  9. March 2016: $2 million
  10. April 2015: $1.4 million to $1.6 million.

The September 2014 award of $30 million to one whistleblower remains the largest single award made under the SEC whistleblower program and was the fourth award granted to a whistleblower living in a foreign country. The person in question shared crucial, original information that resulted in a successful SEC enforcement action (a legal action taken against those who break laws or regulations).

Top 10 SEC Whistleblower Awards for FY 2016

Here are the whistleblower awards given out during FY 2016, starting with the award that is the largest one for FY 2016:

  1. August, 2016: over $22 million: A company insider supplied information related to a well-hidden securities violation. It is likely that the violation would not have been detected had the whistleblower not come forward. It is the second-largest award in SEC whistleblower history.
  2. June, 2016: $17 million: A former company employee’s in-depth tip advanced an SEC investigation and its enforcement action. Investigators were able to amass strong evidence supporting the SEC’s case because of the whistleblower.
  3. May, 2016: $5 million to $6 million: A payout of between $5 and $6 million was awarded to a former company insider. The whistleblower’s detailed information led to the detection of securities violations that likely would not have been unearthed otherwise.
  4. September, 2016: $4 million: A whistleblower’s original information helped the SEC uncover a fraud.
  5. May, 2016: Over $3.5 million: A company employee provided a tip which strengthened the SEC’s ongoing investigation, supplying additional evidence of wrongdoing and giving the SEC more leverage against the company in question. This case illustrates that whistleblowers can receive an award because they provide the SEC with new data that boosts an existing investigation. Whistleblowers are not limited to providing only the kind of information that initiates a new case.
  6. March, 2016: Nearly $2 million: Three whistleblowers shared this award. The person providing original information received $1.8 million and continued to supply information during the investigation. The remaining two whistleblowers shared more than $130,000 once the investigation was underway. The relative contributions of each whistleblower were taken into account in determining the awards.
  7. January, 2016: More than $700,000: In this case, a company outsider had run an analysis that led to a successful enforcement action by the SEC. Those who work in the industry, but not necessarily at the company in question, can sometimes provide valuable, actionable information as a whistleblower, the same as an insider can.
  8. May, 2016: More than $450,000 to two whistleblowers: The individuals who shared the award provided a tip which guided the SEC to begin a corporate accounting investigation. The whistleblowers also supplied assistance to the SEC once the investigation had begun.
  9. November, 2015: Over $325,000: An investment firm’s former employee supplied specific, detailed information leading to the SEC’s investigation, including the naming of certain individuals. However, because the whistleblower waited to leave the company before they reported to the SEC, the delay was considered unreasonable, which impacted the size of the award. The delay of reporting wrongdoing is considered especially problematic when it comes to ongoing securities violations, because it can negatively impact the SEC’s ability to prosecute.
  10. April, 2016: More than $275,000: The whistleblower reported a detailed tip that not only led to a successful SEC enforcement action, it also contributed to a related criminal action. The award’s amount was small because it was offset by unpaid monetary obligations from an unrelated final judgment against the whistleblower.

Multi-Million Awards: October to December, 2016

Two other awards, though they fall outside the boundaries of FY 2016, are worth mentioning:

  • November, 2016: A whistleblower was awarded over $20 million for coming forward quickly with information that led to an SEC enforcement action against the wrongdoers before they could spend or otherwise get rid of the money. The award was the third-largest in SEC whistleblower history.
  • December, 2016: The SEC awarded a whistleblower around $3.5 million because they came forward with information leading to an enforcement action.

You may have noticed that some awards have little detail attached to them. That is because the SEC’s whistleblower program contains protections to help whistleblowers remain anonymous, including their case’s details that might inadvertently reveal an identity.

Working with whistleblowers tirelessly to shed light on fraudulent practices.

If you think you have the facts needed to bring a whistleblower case, the experienced whistleblower attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm can review your case and help you file the appropriate disclosure statement. Under some circumstances, the government will intervene, or join in your lawsuit.

Your chances of succeeding are greater if your whistleblower claim is substantive, clear, and to the point.

Because of this, meeting with a qualified whistleblower attorney can increase your chances of winning. The Louthian Law Firm can help you form your claim so that the government will be more inclined to intervene in your case; government intervention can sometimes increase the chances of recovering reward money. Even if the government decides not to intervene, it could still be a good idea to pursue your case without government involvement. Our strong support system can assist you through every step of the process.

For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, call the Louthian Law Firm today at 1-803-454-1200 or, if you prefer, you can fill out our online contact form.

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