Amidst the flurry of Supreme Court decisions, new lawsuits, and other activity in the last few days, I have not yet had the chance to comment on a particularly important development earlier this week. That is, on March 19, 2018, the SEC announced the two largest whistleblower bounty awards in the history of its whistleblower bounty program. The value of the two awards to three whistleblowers, whose reports led to a $415 settlement with Merrill Lynch, totaled roughly $83 million. These awards are significant, and not just because of their size, as discussed below. The SEC’s March 19, 2018 press release about the awards can be found here, and the SEC’s heavily redacted March 19, 2018 Order Determining Whistleblower Award Claims can be found here.
Continue Reading A Lot is Going On Now, But Don’t Overlook the SEC’s Whistleblower Awards Earlier This Week

The SEC’s whistleblower program is now entering its seventh year. The SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower’s November 15, 2017 annual report to Congress underscores that the agency’s whistleblower program continues to grow and remains an important part of the agency’s enforcement efforts. The number of whistleblower reports submitted to the agency once again increased in the 2017 FY, and the whistleblower reports continue to lead to significant enforcement recoveries, as well as to significant bounty awards to the whistleblowers, as detailed below. The Office of the Whistleblower’s 2017 report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Whistleblower Program Continues to Surge

gavelWithin the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower provisions, Congress included some stiff anti-retaliation protections. Since the Act’s passage, however, the lower federal courts have struggled to try to determine whether the anti-retaliation protections apply only to whistleblowers who file reports with the SEC or whether or not the protections extend to individuals who file internal whistleblower reports within their own companies. A split on this issue has developed within the federal circuit courts and now the United States Supreme Court may have the opportunity to address the question.
Continue Reading Which Whistleblowers Can Claim Dodd-Frank Act Anti-Retaliation Protection?

SEC logoWhen Congress created the SEC Whistleblower program in the Dodd-Frank Act, one of the requirements was that the SEC’s Office of the Whistlblower would provide an annual report to Congress. On November 15, 2016, the SEC released its annual whistleblower report for the 2016 fiscal year (which ended September 30, 2016). The report shows that the agency continues to make substantial awards to whistleblowers, with six of the ten largest awards being made in FY 2016. The report also shows that the volume of whistleblower tips to the agency continues to increase as well. A copy of the agency’s FY 2016 report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC’s Annual Report Highlights Whistleblower Awards

seclogoWhile the SEC’s Dodd-Frank whistleblower program has drawn significant attention, the fact is that the program has gotten off to a slow start. As of the end of the last fiscal year, the SEC had during the program’s history received a total of 10,193 whistleblower reports, but had made only 14 whistleblower awards. (Indeed, the agency had rejected more award requests – 19 – than awards given.) While the agency’s deliberate pace in making awards seems unchanged, the agency continues to make substantial awards and the aggregate value of the awards is gradually becoming quite considerable.

On July 17, 2015, the SEC announced yet another significant award, a $3 million award to a company insider whose information “helped the SEC crack a complex fraud.” Consistently with the law’s requirements, the agency did not disclose the name of the whistleblower or the company involved. The SEC’s July 17, 2015 press release can be found here. The redacted July 17, 2015 SEC Order determining the whistleblower award can be found here.
Continue Reading Is the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Bounty Program Gaining Momentum?

whistlesecIn recent years, one of the favored responses of legislative reformers and regulatory enforcement authorities to financial fraud and other corporate misconduct has been the encouragement of whistleblowing activity. Both the Sarbanes-Oxley and the Dodd-Frank Act contained elaborate provisions designed to encourage and even to reward whistleblowers. There seems to be no question that the

sec sealThe number of whistleblower reports to the SEC increased again in the latest fiscal year, according to the annual report of the SEC whistleblower office. The report, which the SEC is required by the Dodd-Frank Act to provide to Congress annually, is entitled the “2014 Annual Report to Congress on the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program” and