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SEC awards two whistleblowers $54 million

The Securities and Exchange Commission awarded $39 million to one whistleblower Thursday and $15 million to another in the same case for information that helped the agency “bring an important enforcement action.” 

The $39 million award is the second-biggest payout under the SEC whistleblower program.

The SEC’s biggest whistleblower award was $50 million, shared by two former Merrill Lynch employees in March this year. A third former Merrill Lynch employee was awarded $33 million in the same case, according to a lawyer for the three whistleblowers.

In Thursday’s redacted award order, the SEC said the two whistleblowers also helped during the agency’s investigation.

The whistleblowers submitted claims for more money based on a related enforcement action at another federal agency. The SEC denied those claims.

The SEC also denied an award to a third claimant.

By law, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and doesn’t disclose information that might reveal who they are.

The SEC has now awarded more than $320 million to 57 individuals since its first award in 2012. 

Awards are paid out of penalties the SEC collects from securities law violators.

Whistleblowers can be eligible for an award when they voluntarily provide the SEC with “original, timely, and credible information” that leads to a successful enforcement action.

Awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when sanctions are more than $1 million.

Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said Thursday, “These substantial awards send a strong message about the SEC’s commitment to whistleblowers and the value they bring to the agency’s mission.” 

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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