When President Trump was elected into office, many wondered what an administration change would mean for the SEC Whistleblower Program which had awarded nearly $150 million to whistleblowers since being created as part of the Obama administration’s historic Dodd-Frank act. After all, Trump had based much of his campaign on reversing changes made by Obama, and Dodd-Frank was indeed one of Obama’s most significant achievements. At the same time, however, Trump’s populist campaign rhetoric of “draining the swamp” suggested an interest in continuing corruption-fighting mechanisms such as those set in place by the whistleblower office. What has become clear is that Trump continuously defies expectations regarding policy implementations, and his economic advisers include those representing a variety of political affiliations, thus it is too early to definitively say what the future holds in store for the program. That said, a very promising sign for whistleblowers in late April was the SEC’s announcement of a $4 million whistleblower award, the first handed down in the Trump administration. This was followed shortly thereafter by the announcement of a second SEC whistleblower award of $500,000 in early May.
$4 Million Tied for Top 10 Highest Awards Ever
No details were given by the SEC regarding the identity of the whistleblower who received the $4 million award or what the underlying information was that was provided by the whistleblower. This anonymity is often provided by the SEC to encourage potential whistleblowers to come forward without fear of retaliation or unwanted publicity. What we do know, however, is that the financial implications of the conduct at issue must have been significant given the size of the award which is tied for being the 10th largest award since the office began issuing awards. Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC Whistleblower Office did state, however, that, “Not only did this whistleblower step forward and report suspicious conduct, but continued to help after we opened our investigation.”
$500,000 to go to “Company Insider”
In the second whistleblowing award announced on May 2, the SEC announced it was awarding $500,000 to an unnamed “company insider” for reporting information of “well-hidden misconduct” that eventually led to an enforcement action. Norberg stated:
“This company employee saw something wrong and did the right thing by reporting what turned out to be hard-to-detect violations of the securities laws…Company insiders are in a unique position to provide specific information that allows us to better protect investors and the marketplace. We encourage insiders with information to bring it to our attention”
Recovering Your Own SEC Award as a Company Insider
If you are aware of misconduct in your organization that violates SEC regulations, you too may be able to recover a significant financial reward by presenting information related to the misconduct to the SEC Whistleblower Office. By working with an experienced whistleblower attorney, you can not only improve your chances of recovering an award (typically 10% to 30% of the total recovery made by the SEC as result of the information provided), but also take steps to protect yourself from retaliation in the process.
At Kreindler & Associates, we are committed to helping whistleblowers win maximum compensation by bringing wrongdoing to light, while taking all necessary precautions to protect their interests. To learn more about how Kreindler & Associates can help in your SEC whistleblower matter, see here.