The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, announced Monday that it will give out the largest-ever whistleblower award to an anonymous tipster who lives outside the country. The whistleblower will receive more than $30 million for providing crucial information that led to an enforcement action in a fraud case.
The latest award is the fourth such instance where the SEC rewarded a whistleblower living in a foreign country, which according to the agency demonstrates the "international reach" of the SEC program. The award is also more than double the previous record of $14 million given to a whistleblower in 2013.
“This whistleblower came to us with information about an ongoing fraud that would have been very difficult to detect,” Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said, in a statement. “This record-breaking award sends a strong message about our commitment to whistleblowers and the value they bring to law enforcement.”
However, the latest award could have been even higher if the whistleblower hadn't delayed reporting the incident, the The Wall Street Journal reported, citing the SEC order announcing the award.
The whistleblower program was authorized by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act, according to media reports. Prior to Dodd-Frank, the SEC could only reportedly reward tipsters for helping on insider-trading cases. And, in keeping with U.S. regulations, the SEC does not reveal the nature of the enforcement action or the identity of the whistleblower.
“The money paid to whistleblowers comes from an investor protection fund established by Congress at no cost to taxpayers or harmed investors,” SEC said, in the statement.
The awards given to whistleblowers, who provide high-quality, original information that result in an SEC enforcement action, range between 10 percent and 30 percent of the money collected in a case by the agency. Since its inception in fiscal year 2012, more than a dozen whistleblowers have received the SEC award.
“This award of more than $30 million shows the international breadth of our whistleblower program as we effectively utilize valuable tips from anyone, anywhere to bring wrongdoers to justice. Whistleblowers from all over the world should feel similarly incentivized to come forward with credible information about potential violations of the U.S. securities laws,” Sean McKessy, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said, in the statement.
In fiscal year 2013, the SEC's whistleblower program received information from people in about 55 foreign countries, the agency said, according to the Journal. The report also stated that most foreign whistleblowers came from the U.K., Canada and China.
“We’re pleased with the consistent yearly growth in the number of award recipients since the program’s inception,” McKessy said.