The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has awarded a record $279 million to a whistleblower whose information and assistance led to successful enforcement actions. The award is the largest in the SEC’s whistleblower program’s history.
Today we announced the largest-ever award, nearly $279 million to a whistleblower whose information and assistance led to the successful enforcement of SEC and related actions.https://t.co/GGwiZ4BQUf
— U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (@SECGov) May 5, 2023
SEC Awards $279M To Whistleblower
The previous largest award in SEC’s history was $114 million in October 2020. The program incentivizes whistleblowers to come forward with accurate information about potential securities law violations and has contributed to enforcement actions resulting in the seizure of more than $4 billion worth of fraudulent gains and interest.
Whistleblowers are usually eligible for an award when they voluntarily provide the SEC with credible, original, and timely information that leads to a successful enforcement action and adhere to filing requirements in the whistleblower rules. Whistleblower awards can range from 10% to 30% of the money collected, the contributions of the whistleblower, and finally, if the monetary sanctions exceed $1 million.
The whistleblower’s assistance, which includes multiple interviews and written submissions, has been critical to the success of multiple enforcement actions. While their information did not prompt the opening of the investigation, it expanded the scope of the misconduct charged.
The payments made to whistleblowers are done out of an investor protection fund, financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators and fraudulent actors. The arrangement ensures that no money needs to be taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblowers.
As set forth in the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC is allowed to protect the confidentiality of each whistleblower, and the agency does not disclose any information that could reveal a whistleblower’s identity.
SEC’s Awards Further crypto Crackdown
With the huge amounts of awards given by the SEC for successful whistle-blowing and the SEC’s increasing focus on cryptocurrency companies for alleged securities violations, this might prompt wanting whistleblowers to assist the agency to crack down further on crypto firms.
In Q4 2020, The SEC filed a lawsuit against Ripple Inc., a blockchain company, alleging that its sale of XRP, the native currency of the XRPL, constituted an unregistered securities offering that raised more than $1.3 billion. The case is still ongoing.
The agency has also issued warnings to investors about the risks of cryptocurrency investments, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), which it has deemed to be securities offerings in many cases.
As cryptocurrencies continue to gain mainstream acceptance, it is likely that the SEC will increase its scrutiny of the industry. The agency has already indicated that it is looking closely at decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms and other crypto-related services.
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