The SEC Office of the Whistleblower formally came into existence in 2010 when President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Previously, the SEC had in place a more informal whistleblower bounty program, but that program was not well-designed, and few awards were actually made as not many individuals knew about it. Under the current system, the SEC can make payments to whistleblowers who voluntarily provide information about securities violations that ultimately lead to successful enforcement actions.
The purpose of the program is to help the SEC identify securities fraud at an early stage and prevent further incidents from occurring. Whistleblowers can receive monetary awards when the information provided results in more than $1 million in sanctions. Payouts typically range from 10 to 30 percent of the sanction money collected.
Whistleblowers can submit a tip in two different ways. You can submit information electronically through the SEC’s Tips, Complaints, and Referrals Portal. The second manner involves filling out the SEC’s Form TCR for tips, complaints, or referrals and then mailing or faxing the form to the SEC Office of the Whistleblower.
Anyone who submits information online and would like to apply for a monetary award or receive additional confidentiality protections should confirm that you are submitting your information to the SEC’s whistleblower program. The end of the online questionnaire also includes a declaration that you must complete.
All tips, complaints, and referrals provided to the SEC are considered confidential and non-public. Providing a whistleblower tip anonymously requires having an attorney represent you and act as the contact for your submission. However, there are limitations to how far the SEC can protect your identity as a whistleblower. By having an experienced whistleblower attorney represent you, you can maximize your chances that your identity won’t be revealed to unauthorized third parties.
Virtually any citizen of the United States can become a whistleblower and submit fraud information to the SEC. Working with an attorney can also help you maximize your chances of receiving an award, regardless of whether you submit the information anonymously or under your own name.
It’s also wise to retain the services of an attorney for a number of other reasons. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate your case and help you file it on time and in the proper manner. Whistleblowing is also a serious matter, and there can be repercussions to your career and personal life. Another possibility that can occur is that as a whistleblower, you may be approached by someone offering you hush money.
Oftentimes, only a small group of employees are privy to the actions occurring within a company that can lead to a whistleblower complaint. When corporate officials begin their review of the complaint, it often doesn’t take long for them to determine which employee provided the information.
Lastly, an experienced SEC whistleblower attorney will also help you avoid breaking the law to obtain evidence, which can void your complaint.