On Monday, January 23, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) awarded more than $7 million to be split among three whistleblowers. The three individuals helped the SEC in its investigation and prosecution of an investment scheme.
The identity of whistleblowers is protected by law however, the SEC did disclose that the primary whistleblower will receive more than $4 million, while the other two will split more than $3 million.
Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, stated, “Whistleblowers played an important role in the success of this case as they helped our agency detect and prosecute a scheme preying on vulnerable investors.” Norberg credited the whistleblowers with helping open the investigation and also providing additional information as the investigation was underway. Norberg served as Acting Chief when Sean McKessey left the position in July 2016, and was promoted to Chief in September 2016.
Since the inception of the whistleblower program in 2011, over $935 million in financial remedies have resulted from successful SEC enforcement actions that arose from whistleblower tips. Approximately $149 million has been awarded to 41 whistleblowers. Awards have varied in amounts, including awards for $500 thousand, $3 million, $7 million, $17 million, and $30 million, which is the largest award to date.
Norberg taking over for McKessey has not changed the focus of the SEC’s Whistleblower program. We will have to wait and see the direction the SEC goes in after the Trump administration replaces Mary Jo White as SEC Chair. Regardless of who succeeds Chairman White, it continues to be important to have internal compliance programs that are communicated and followed throughout the organization. And as always, a company should take prompt action to address any misconduct within its ranks.