Aug. 26, 2022 —The Securities and Exchange Commission today adopted two amendments to the rules governing its whistleblower program. The first rule change allows the Commission to pay whistleblowers for their information and assistance in connection with non-SEC actions in additional circumstances. The second rule affirms the Commission’s authority to consider the dollar amount of a potential award for the limited purpose of increasing an award but not to lower an award.
“In 2010, Congress under the Dodd-Frank Act directed the SEC to establish a whistleblower program, which to date has greatly aided the Commission’s work to protect investors,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “Today’s amendments enact two changes to help enhance the whistleblower program. The first amendment expands the circumstances in which a whistleblower who assisted in a related action can receive an award from the Commission for that related action rather than from the other agency’s whistleblower program. Under the second amendment, when the Commission considers the size of the would-be award as grounds to change the award amount, it can do so only to increase the award, and not to decrease it. I think that these rules will strengthen our whistleblower program. That helps protect investors.”
Specifically, the SEC amended Rule 21F-3 to allow the Commission to pay whistleblower awards for certain actions brought by other entities, including designated federal agencies, in cases where those awards might otherwise be paid under the other entity’s whistleblower program. The amendments allow for such awards when the other entity’s program is not comparable to the Commission’s own program or if the maximum award that the Commission could pay on the related action would not exceed $5 million.
Further, the amendments affirm the Commission’s authority under Rule 21F-6 to consider the dollar amount of a potential award for the limited purpose of increasing the award amount, and it would eliminate the Commission’s authority to consider the dollar amount of a potential award for the purpose of decreasing an award.
The SEC’s whistleblower program was established in 2010 to encourage individuals to report high-quality tips to the Commission and help the agency detect wrongdoing and better protect investors and the marketplace. The program has made significant contributions to the effectiveness of the agency’s enforcement of the federal securities laws. Since the program’s inception, enforcement matters brought using original information from meritorious whistleblowers have resulted in orders for more than $5 billion in total monetary sanctions. The Commission has awarded more than $1.3 billion to meritorious whistleblowers under the program.
The whistleblower rule amendments will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Mark Astarita is a nationally recognized securities attorney, who represents investors, financial professionals and firms in securities litigation, arbitration and regulatory matters, including SEC and FINRA investigations and enforcement proceedings.
He is a partner in the national securities law firm Sallah Astarita & Cox, LLC, and the founder of The Securities Law Home Page - SECLaw.com, which was one of the first legal topic sites on the Internet. It went online in 1995 and is updated daily with news, commentary and securities law related links.