This is the first award paid under the “safe harbor” of Exchange Act Rule 21F-4(b)(7), which provides that if a whistleblower submits information to another federal agency and submits the same information to the SEC within 120 days, then the SEC will treat the information as though it had been submitted to the SEC at the same time that it was submitted to the other agency.
The whistleblower voluntarily reported information to a federal agency covered by the rule, which referred the matter to the SEC. The SEC then opened an investigation. Within 120 days of the initial report, the whistleblower provided the same information to the SEC and later provided substantial cooperation in the investigation. Although the SEC report came after the staff had opened its investigation, the SEC treated the submission as though it had been made when the whistleblower provided the information to the other agency.
“Whistleblowers, especially non-lawyers, may not always know where to report, or may report to multiple agencies,” said Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “This award shows that whistleblowers can still receive an award if they first report to another agency, as long as they also report their information to the SEC within the 120-day safe harbor period and their information otherwise meets the eligibility criteria for an award.”
The SEC has awarded more than $264 million to 54 whistleblowers since issuing its first award in 2012. All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators. No money has been taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards. Whistleblowers may be eligible for an award when they voluntarily provide the SEC with original, timely, and credible information that leads to a successful enforcement action. Whistleblower awards can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million.
By law, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose information that might directly or indirectly reveal a whistleblower’s identity.
For more information about the whistleblower program and how to report a tip, visitwww.sec.gov/whistleblower.