The SEC has issued a press release announcing that 2016 was a record-setting fiscal year for both SEC Enforcement and the SEC whistleblower program.  One of the highlights is that the SEC gave out over $57 million in SEC whistleblower awards to 13 different people during 2016.  This set an SEC whistleblower program record.

SEC whistleblower program record

According to the press release, the $57 million given out during 2016 was more than the total amount of SEC whistleblower awards granted by the SEC whistleblower program “in all previous years combined”.

In addition to setting an SEC whistleblower program record, 2016 was also a marquee year for the SEC whistleblower program in terms of SEC whistleblower protections, SEC enforcement actions generally, and SEC enforcement actions in certain types of cases.

SEC Whistleblower Protections During 2016

The SEC brought its first stand-alone action for an employer’s retaliation against a whistleblower during fiscal year 2016.

In addition, the SEC charged four separate public companies for using confidentiality or severance agreements that contained provisions that impeded whistleblowers from communicating with the SEC, or for taking other actions that chilled whistleblowers from reporting to the SEC.

SEC Sets Enforcement Records

The $57 million SEC whistleblower program record was not the only record that the SEC set during 2016.  According to the press release, the 866 enforcement actions filed by the SEC in 2016 set a “new single year high”.  Among those 866 cases were 548 standalone or independent enforcement actions, also a record.

Included in those figures were records for the most ever independent or stand-alone cases against investment advisers or investment companies (98), and the most cases that somehow involved investment advisers or investment companies (160).

The SEC also brought 21 enforcement actions for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), which set another record.

In addition to these records, the press release describes other types of enforcement cases that the SEC brought during fiscal year 2016.  These parts of the press release may help to explain some of the types of SEC whistleblower cases that the SEC is currently interested in hearing about.

Disgorgement And Penalties Ordered

The press release also contains a chart showing the amount of disgorgements and penalties ordered in SEC enforcement actions for fiscal years 2014-2016:

  • 2014: $4.16 billion
  • 2015: $4.19 billion
  • 2016: over $4 billion

Additional Information

For more information about the SEC’s press release announcing its record-setting year for SEC enforcement and the SEC whistleblower program, click on the links below:

  • The SEC’s Press Release announcing that the SEC whistleblower program awarded over $57 million in 2016.  (External link to the SEC’s website.)
  • Article about the SEC granting a record amount of SEC whistleblower awards in 2016.  (Note:  external link to The Pickholz Law Offices website.)