2018 Sees Largest SEC Whistleblower Awards Granted; Record # of Tips Received

SEC Report Details Largest SEC Whistleblower Awards, Other Statistics

In 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission granted its largest SEC whistleblower awards as of that date.  It also received more SEC whistleblower tips than it had in any prior year.
largest SEC whistleblower awards

    The SEC’s 2018 Report To Congress

Those facts come from the SEC’s 2018 annual report to the U.S. Congress about the SEC whistleblower program.  This annual report is a major source for SEC whistleblower information. In the first sentence of the 2018 annual report, the Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower (“OWB”) announced that “Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 was a record-breaking year for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC or Commission) whistleblower program.”

Records Set For Largest SEC Whistleblower Awards Granted

In 2018, “The Commission ordered its largest whistleblower awards to date”.  (Report, page 1.) The largest SEC whistleblower awards were given out to two individuals, who split an award of almost $50 million.  (Report, page 13.) Another SEC whistleblower reward of $39 million was granted to a different whistleblower. The Commission also set a record for the largest SEC whistleblower awards granted in terms of the total dollar amount handed out in a single year.  It gave out more than $168 million in awards during 2018.  That was more than “the total amount awarded in all prior years combined”.  (Report, page 1.) Since the SEC whistleblower program began in 2010, the Commission has given out over $326 million to 59 whistleblowers.  (Report, page 1.)

Record Set For Number Of Whistleblower Tips Received In A Single Year

In addition to the largest SEC whistleblower awards, the Commission also set a record for the most number of SEC whistleblower tips that it received in any single year.  (Report, page 1.) The SEC received 5,282 tips from whistleblowers during 2018. A table in the annual report shows that for every year from 2011 – 2018, the number of SEC whistleblower tips went up.  According to the report, “Throughout the history of the whistleblower program, the Commission’s receipt of whistleblower tips has reflected an upward trajectory”.  (Report, page 20.)
largest SEC whistleblower award

Table from page 20 of the SEC’s 2018 Report to Congress

A Continued Focus On SEC Whistleblower Protections

While the large or largest SEC whistleblower awards are often emphasized, the Commission recognized that SEC whistleblower protections are also critical components of its whistleblower program:

Anti-retaliation protections continue to be a critical component in the success of the Commission’s whistleblower program…. enforcement actions against companies and individuals who retaliate against whistleblowers or take actions to impede whistleblowers’ communications with the Commission will remain a focus of OWB’s mission in the upcoming fiscal year.  (Report, page 2.)

The protections available also include SEC whistleblower confidentiality for whistleblower submissions, as well as “the ability to file a whistleblower tip anonymously with the assistance of an” SEC whistleblower lawyer.  (Report, pages 4, 16.)

Additional Information

To read more about these records for the largest SEC whistleblower awards and numbers of tips received, whistleblower protections, and additional statistics about the SEC whistleblower reward program, click on the links below:
  • 2018 Annual Report to Congress on the SEC whistleblower program.  (External link to the SEC’s website.)
  • Article about the SEC’s 2018 Annual Report to Congress.  (Note:  external link to The Pickholz Law Offices website.)
  • 2016 Annual Report to Congress.  (Link to another page on this website.)

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