On the eve of Thanksgiving, one thing we can be thankful for is the great year that the SEC Whistleblower Program had protecting the United States markets from fraud. In its annual report to Congress, the SEC detailed several encouraging trends that it experienced in the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2016.
Probably the most important trend for whistleblowers is that the amount of money being awarded for tips is drastically increasing. The total amount of money awarded to whistleblowers in 2016 — $57 million — was more than all of the awards dispensed in every year of the program combined.
In addition, the sheer volume of tips were massively up in 2016 as the Office of the Whistleblower (OWB) reported more than 4,200 tips, an increase of more than 40% since 2012. The tips reported in 2016 alone represent nearly a quarter of all the 18,000 tips that the OWB has received in the last 5 years.
Tips from foreign whistleblowers are also increasing. The report noted that whistleblower tips came in from 67 foreign countries this year, with the most coming from Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
OWB Chief Jane Norberg believes that these trends will continue because “awareness of the program has grown tremendously over the years.” Norberg predicts that the program will be even more successful as the OWB incentivizes “company insiders, market participants, and others with knowledge of potential securities law violations to come forward and report their information to the agency.”
She also noted that the OWB was now taking “significant and ground-breaking” steps to make sure that whistleblowers are protected from retaliation because “[s]trong enforcement of the anti-retaliation protections is a critical component of the SEC’s whistleblower program.”
Norberg concluded that “the whistleblower program will continue to positively impact SEC enforcement of the federal securities laws.”