The SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower received a record 6,911 whistleblower tips during FY 2020, which ended September 30, 2020. The nearly 7,000 reports represent a nearly 33% increase over the number of tips received during the prior fiscal year, according to the Office’s recently released annual report. The Office also made awards representing a record high annual dollar value and to a record annual number of individual award recipients during the fiscal year.  A copy of the November 16, 2020 report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC: Record Number of Whistleblower Tips and Awards During FY 2020

It was only this past June when the SEC made what was at the time the largest ever whistleblower award — $50 million – to a single individual. As it has turned out, that record stood for only a short time, as on October 22, 2020, the SEC shattered the prior record, paying out a whopping whistleblower bounty of $114 million to a single individual. The SEC’s award order is heavily redacted to protect the identity of the whistleblower so relatively is known about the circumstances surrounding the award, but even so the sheer size of the award makes a serious statement. The SEC’s October 22, 2020 award order can be found here. The SEC’s October 22, 20202 press release about the award can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Awards Largest-Ever Whistleblower Bounty of $114 Million

Matt Stock
Jason Zuckerman

In the following guest post, Matt Stock and Jason Zuckerman take a look at five ways that the SEC whistleblower program has affected both corporate compliance and the SEC’s enforcement efforts. Matt and Jason represent whistleblowers worldwide in whistleblower rewards and whistleblower retaliation claims. My thanks to Matt and Jason for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Matt and Jason’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: How the SEC Whistleblower Program Has Changed Corporate Compliance and SEC Enforcement

In a June 4, 2020 press release (here), the SEC announced that it had granted an individual a $50 million whistleblower award, the largest ever award to a single individual. While there had been a prior $50 million award that two individuals shared, the largest prior award to a single individual was a 2018 award of $39 million.
Continue Reading SEC Grants Largest Ever Individual Whistleblower Award

In the largest such award so far this year, the SEC has awarded more than $27 million to a whistleblower, an award amount that the Commission increased above staff recommendations in recognition that the whistleblower had “repeatedly and tenaciously” voiced his concerns about the misconduct within his organization before reporting it to the agency. As discussed below, there are a number of noteworthy features about this award. The Commission’s April 16, 2020 order about the award can be found here. The Commission’s April 16, 2020 press release about the award can be found here.
Continue Reading “Tenacious” SEC Whistleblower Awarded More Than $27 Million

Frank Hülsberg
Burkhard Fassbach

In the following guest post, Frank Hülsberg, partner and member of the board of directors of Grant Thornton Germany, and Burkhard Fassbach, a D&O-lawyer in private practice in Germany, take a look at key whistleblower considerations relating to GDPR compliance. I would like to thank Frank and Burkhard for allowing me to publish their article. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Frank and Burkhard’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: GDPR and Whistleblowing

According to the latest annual report from the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, the number of whistleblower reports and the total value of whistleblower awards continued at elevated levels during fiscal 2019 (which ended September 30, 2019). Though the reports and awards remained high during the fiscal year, both were down relative to the prior fiscal year. And while the aggregate award values and even several individual awards during the fiscal year are impressive, the small number of awards relative to the vast numbers of whistleblower reports is noteworthy and striking, as is discussed further below. The Office of the Whistleblower’s November 15, 2019 report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC: Whistleblower Reports and Awards Continue at Elevated Levels

While the most common type of whistleblower may be a disgruntled employee, others can be whistleblowers, too. And as a recent SEC enforcement action highlights, interfering with these others’ attempts to communicate with the SEC can violate the agency’s whistleblower protection rules. In an amended complaint filed on November 4, 2019 in a pending SEC enforcement action, the agency alleges that the defendant company and one of its principals violated the SEC’s whistleblower rules by requiring the company’s investors to enter agreements in which the investors agreed not to contact the SEC or other regulatory enforcement authorities. The SEC alleges that these actions violated the agency’s whistleblower rules. A copy of the SEC’s November 4, 2019 press release about the amended complaint can be found here.  
Continue Reading SEC’s Whistleblower Protections Extend Beyond Just Employees

Whistleblowing has a long and respected tradition in the United States. In more recent times, whistleblowing and its protections have been part of several legislative schemes, including, for example, the creation in the Dodd-Frank Act of the SEC Whistleblower Program. The recent whistleblower complaint about President Trump’s July 2019 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, underscores the continued important role of whistleblowing in the our political and business culture. As the events surrounding the recent whistleblowing complaint also show, whistleblowing is often regarded as a provocative act, and that, at a minimum, whistleblowing can be highly divisive.

A recently published book, “Crisis of Conscience: Whistleblowing in the Age of Fraud,”  written by journalist Tom Mueller, takes a detailed look at the role of whistleblowing in our culture, and the ways in which, despite all of the surrounding controversy, whistleblowing remains an indispensable part of maintaining order and enforcing our values and expectations.
Continue Reading  Book Review: “Crisis of Conscience: Whistleblowing in the Age of Fraud”

Frank Hülsberg
Burkhard Fassbach

In the following guest post, Frank Hülsberg, a Partner for Governance, Risk, Compliance & Technology at Warth & Klein Grant Thornton AG in Düsseldorf, and Burkhard Fassbach, a D&O-lawyer in private practice in Germany, take a look at the EU’s new Whistleblower Directive. I would like to thank Frank and Burkhard for allowing me to publish their article. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Frank and Burkhard’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: The European Union Whistleblower Directive: Overdue Protective Shield