SEC Whistleblower Settlements Have Resulted in $1 Billion in Awards Paid For Uncovering Violations of Securities Laws

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced this month that it was paying a whistleblower award of $110 million, marking the second-highest settlement for a program designed to uncover violations of securities laws, which has now awarded more than $1 billion to 207 whistleblowers over the past decade.

The False Claims Act of 1863 allows anyone who discovers that the United States government is being defrauded to file a whistleblower lawsuit, allowing settlements or awards for the individuals who uncover the abuse under the qui tam provision. Typically, the types of fraud investigated ranged from off-label marketing of drugs, defense and national security to import tariffs, small business programs, healthcare and many others.

In 2010, the SEC Whistleblower Program was created under the Obama administration, providing settlement awards for individuals who bring accurate and successful claims involving fraud and violations of securities laws to the government’s attention, making the whistleblower eligible to recover a portion of any money obtained from the offending company.

The first whistleblower settlement was issued by the SEC in 2012, and the agency announced this month that the program has now paid out more than $1 billion, highlighting the extraordinary role individuals can play in helping the SEC ferret out wrongdoing, and making the whistleblower eligible for substantial rewards if they voluntarily provide original, timely and credible information that leads to a successful enforcement action.

To further encourage individuals with knowledge of a company’s wrongdoing, the program offers whistleblowers protections against retaliation by their employer and does not disclose any information which could reveal a whistleblowers identify.

“The whistleblower program has been instrumental to the success of numerous enforcement actions since it was instituted a decade ago,” SEC Director of Division of Enforcement, Gurbir S. Grewal said. “We hope that today’s announcement encourages whistleblowers to continue to come forward with credible information about potential violations of the securities laws”

The SEC announced another whistleblower settlement on September 17, in which two individuals received a total of $11.5 million in rewards for information and assistance that contributed to the success of an SEC enforcement action.

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