Last month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it had paid out approximately $5.3 million in awards to corporate whistleblowers. The SEC Whistleblower Program allows eligible whistleblowers to receive a cash award of 10% to 30% of funds the government obtains from the information they provide. The SEC does not disclose the identifying information about who receives the awards to protect the whistleblowers. They also offer anti-retaliation protections to whistleblowers.
One Corporate Whistleblower Received $4 Million in Awards
According to the report released by the SEC, an individual whistleblower obtained nearly $4 million in compensation. The disclosure led the SEC to investigate corporate misconduct, which led to successful enforcement action. The whistleblower provided extraordinary assistance to SEC staff, including: “(1) participating in hours of telephonic interviews and exchanging more than 125 emails with staff; (2) providing documents and explaining their significance to staff; and (3) identifying key witnesses.”
As for the second enforcement action, the SEC awarded multiple whistleblowers $1.3 million. A single whistleblower received a $1 million award, and two others received the joint award of $270,000. The individual provided information leading to the opening of Investigations. The whistleblower that received $1 million was found to have covered a wider breadth of misconduct with the information he or she provided to the SEC, which is why he or she received a more significant portion of the payout.
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How Much Money Has the SEC Awarded Eligible Whistleblowers?
The SEC has awarded over $937 million to 178 individuals since they started giving out cash awards in 2012. Since October 1st, 2020, the SEC has awarded approximately 375 million to 72 people since the start of the fiscal year. The SEC is highly motivated to pay out awards when whistleblowers provide them with information about illegal practices.
I am a Whistleblower: Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you know that your company is engaging in unlawful practices, you may be considering acting as a whistleblower. Being a whistleblower is risky, and you are probably concerned about losing your job and damaging your professional reputation if you act as a whistleblower. However, as long as you meet all of the whistleblowing requirements, the SEC will protect you from any retaliation by your employer.
Different federal laws protect different types of whistleblowing Acts. For example, the occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) has a whistleblower protection program that protects whistleblowers from retaliation by employers. If you know that your employer fails to follow all of the workplace guidelines required by OSHA, an attorney can help you understand your rights and what the process will entail.
At Heninger Garrison Davis, our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of all of the relevant whistleblowing laws. When you meet with us, everything you say is protected by the attorney/client privilege and confidential. We recommend discussing your case with a lawyer before you start working with the SEC. Your lawyer will protect your rights and ensure that you go about the process according to the appropriate guidelines, giving you the best chance possible of obtaining a cash award for the information you provide.
What to Know Before You Engage in Whistleblowing
Before you engage in whistleblowing, we recommend that you bring any Employment contract you signed to the meeting with your lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to advise you of any confidentiality requirements in your contract or with your company’s policies. Your lawyer will also be able to confirm that fraudulent or illegal behavior is occurring. You would not want to report your employer and risk retaliation when your employer’s conduct is not unlawful.
During this process, you should try to collect as much evidence as possible to back up your claim. When you begin working with the SEC, they may start interviewing you and request specific documents. Your lawyer can help you ensure that you do not unintentionally break the law or violate any confidentiality rules that you are bound to follow.
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Contact a Corporate Whistleblower Lawyer Today
At Heninger Garrison Davis, our experienced whistleblower attorneys are knowledgeable about whistleblowing laws. We can tell you whether you qualify for anti-retaliation protection and give you a good idea of the type of evidence you will need to provide the SEC. Contact our Alabama law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.