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SEC Whistleblower Program
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In 2010, after a series of corporate scandals had shuttered companies and devastated countless individual investors, the country debated how to break the cycle of fraud and corruption. Financial watchdogs agreed on two fundamental truths: the investor protection status quo was failing and law enforcement could not effectively and efficiently police the marketplace without the help of individuals with actionable intelligence.
In response, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, one of the most sweeping financial reforms since the Great Depression. Under the statute, the SEC developed a revolutionary bounty program through which eligible whistleblowers receive significant monetary awards, employment protections, and have the ability to report anonymously. To qualify for an award, an individual or group of individuals must voluntarily provide the SEC with original information that results in a successful enforcement action in which the SEC collects over $1 million in sanctions. Depending on various factors, whistleblower bounties range between 10-30% of collected sanctions, with the exact percentage at the agency’s discretion.
Days before the final rules were implemented in 2011, we predicted that history would reveal that in crafting the whistleblower provisions of Dodd-Frank, Congress and the SEC got it right, creating a potent system to fight misconduct. Today, we can say with absolutely certainty that the SEC Whistleblower Program is one of the most successful public-private partnerships in history. The Commission has reported consistent increases in the volume and quality of tips and has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to courageous whistleblowers who saw something, said something and, in the process, restored public faith in the markets.