On June 9th, the SEC announced its second largest award given under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program: $17,000,000. The money will be paid to the anonymous individual that supplied the agency with information that eventually led to the successful investigation of fraudulent practices in securities. This monumental sum, however, pales in comparison to the $30M award paid in September of 2014.
Kudos to Originality
The SEC made a statement about the relevant information offered by the lucky recipient. "The information and assistance provided by this whistleblower enabled our enforcement staff to conserve time and resources and gather strong evidence supporting our case."
Records indicate that the agency also received information from other inside informants related to the fraud, but that the SEC's internal staff concluded that those claimants did not provide original information that helped lead to the successful enforcement.
The New Norm: If You See Something, Say Something
According to numbers by the SEC Officer of the Whistleblower, the numbers of tips have been on the rise every year since 2011. There is no way to tell why this is so, but theories point to an increased public awareness of the SEC's whistleblower programs and the general rise of anti-corruption sentiment.
Approximately 4,000 tips were received by the SEC in 2015, up about eight percent from the year before.
So far, estimates are that about $85 million has been awarded under Dodd-Frank's Whistleblower Program, with the latest $17 million being included in that sum.
In 2015, $37,000,000 was paid to eight whistleblowers, making the practice of snitching (something of value) a highly profitable business model indeed. In-house lawyers should vigilantly take steps to extirpate fraudulent practices within the company's culture. Take note and document all instances of retaliatory firing as well.