Only days after the new financial reform law created the first potentially meaningful awards for whistleblowers reporting securities and commodities violations and abuses, the SEC may have signaled a new attitude toward encouraging whistleblowers.
The SEC recently announced its first million dollar award for a whistleblower’s report of information about insider trading involving hedge fund adviser Pequot Capital Management, Inc., its chief executive, Arthur J. Samberg, and David E. Zilkha, a Microsoft employee.
Although $1 million may not sound like much when compared to the losses caused by the Madoffs of the world, it is a dramatic improvement over what the SEC had done before.
In following the development of the new SEC Whistleblower Program, we previously discussed the Inspector General’s summary of how, over the past eleven years, the SEC had paid a total of less than $160,000 to reward whistleblowers under the “old” SEC bounty program for whistleblowers. The IG reported:
The SEC bounty program has made very few payments to whistleblowers since its inception and received a relatively small number of bounty applications. As a result, the program’s success has been minimal and its existence is practically unknown.
Since the inception of the SEC bounty program in 1989, the SEC has paid a total of $159,537 to five claimants as detailed in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Bounty Payments to Whistleblowers Bounty Claimant Year Bounty Amount 1) Claimant 1 1989 $3,500 2) Claimant 2 2001 $18,152 3) Claimant 3 2002 $29,079 4) Claimant 4 2005 $17,500 4) Claimant 4 2006 $29,920 4) Claimant 4 2009 $55,220 5) Claimant 5 2007 $6,166
Source: OIG Generated
Just as another Inspector General’s report in 2006 set the stage for the successful new IRS Whistleblower Program that is attracting many reports of even billions in tax liability, let’s hope this Inspector General’s report has motivated the SEC to make full use of the opportunity to build a meaningful whistleblower program. We are already getting calls from potential Wall Street whistleblowers wishing to take advantage of it, and it could be a rewarding process–depending on how well the SEC seizes the opportunity.
The SEC’s recent announcement of the $1 million reward is reprinted below: