Where SEC Whistleblowers Come From

The SEC’s Annual Report Explained Where Its 2019 Whistleblowers Came From

Every year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is required to submit a report to the U.S. Congress discussing its whistleblowers and its whistleblower award program (the “Annual Report”).

The SEC’s 2019 Report to Congress

For information about the SEC’s Annual Reports to Congress regarding the SEC whistleblower program, and what information the law requires those reports to contain, click here. According to the SEC’s 2019 Annual Report, the SEC typically does not disclose any information, even to Congress, that might tend to reveal the identity of any of its whistleblowers.  Consistent with this confidentiality principle, the SEC’s 2019 Annual Report provided some general demographic and statistical information about who its whistleblowers were during fiscal year 2019, while protecting the individual whistleblowers’ identities.  (See the SEC’s 2019 Annual Report, p. 17.)

More Than 5,200 Tips Were Submitted During FY 2019

From August 2011 through October 2019, more than 33,000 whistleblower tips were submitted to the SEC. (Annual Report, p. 22.) During fiscal year 2019 alone, the SEC received more than 5,200 whistleblower tips.  (Annual Report, p. 2.) Obviously, the SEC could not and did not investigate all of those tips. Another thing to keep in mind is that shortly after the 2019 Annual Report was released, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the SEC’s denial of a whistleblower award to someone identified as “John Doe”.  The SEC described John Doe as “disjointed”, “jumbled and disorganized”, and “difficult to follow”.  (For a discussion of that case, click here). Given this, to increase their chances potential whistleblowers might want to consider hiring a knowledgeable SEC whistleblower lawyer, with extensive experience representing clients in SEC investigations, before they submit anything to the SEC.  (For more about the role of an SEC whistleblower lawyer and what he or she might be able to do for you, click here.)

Whistleblowers Came From Every State In The U.S.

whistleblowers USThe 2019 Annual Report began with an opening message from the Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower (“OWB”). According to the OWB Chief’s message, during fiscal year 2019 the SEC received tips from whistleblowers from every state in the United States.  (Annual Report, p. 1.) The most tips were submitted by whistleblowers from California (546 tips), Pennsylvania (332 tips), New York 290 tips), Texas (245 tips), and Florida (241 tips).  (Annual Report, p. 24 & Appendix B.)

Whistleblowers Also Came From 70 Foreign Countries

Under the SEC whistleblower rules, individuals from foreign countries are also eligible to become SEC whistleblowers. From the beginning of the SEC whistleblower program in 2010, through October 2019, the SEC received tips from whistleblowers from 123 foreign countries.  (Annual Report, p. 25.) As of the end of fiscal year 2019, fifteen SEC whistleblower awards had been granted to individuals who were either foreign nationals or residents of foreign nations.  (Annual Report, p. 19.)
whistleblowers foreign

Map from the SEC’s 2019 Annual Report, p. 25

During fiscal year 2019 alone, the SEC received approximately 479 SEC whistleblower tips from 70 foreign nations.  (Annual Report, p. 1 & footnote to Appendix C.) The foreign country with the most SEC whistleblower tips submitted was Canada (71 tips), followed by Germany and the United Kingdom (each with 44 tips).  (Annual Report, p. 25 and Appendix C.)

Additional Information

For additional information about the SEC’s 2019 Annual Report and information that it provides about the SEC’s whistleblowers, click on the links below:
  • The SEC’s 2019 Annual Report to Congress. (External link to the SEC’s website.)
  • Article about the SEC’s 2019 Annual Report to Congress.  (Note:  external link to The Pickholz Law Offices website.)

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