In an unusual move, the SEC barred two individuals from the SEC’s whistleblower award program, each of whom filed hundreds of frivolous award applications. The bars were issued pursuant to the 2020 amendments to the Whistleblower Program Rules, which were designed to allow the whistleblower program to operate more effectively and efficiently and to focus on good faith whistleblower submissions.
Over the years, these individuals submitted award applications to the SEC that bore no relation to the underlying enforcement action for which they were applying. The filing of these applications consumed considerable staff time and resources, hindered the efficient operation of the program, and did not contribute to any successful enforcement action. The individuals were repeatedly warned to stop submitting the abusive filings, but refused to do so.
“Frivolous award applications hamper our ability to efficiently process awards to meritorious whistleblowers who come forward with helpful information intended to assist law enforcement,” said Emily Pasquinelli, Acting Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “Today’s permanent bars send an important message that frivolous award filers will not be tolerated.”
Under the SEC’s whistleblower program, individuals who voluntary submit high quality information that leads to the success of an enforcement action may apply for an award in that matter. Whistleblowers are encouraged to apply for awards only where there is a connection between their tip and the charges in the enforcement action.
The permanent bars imposed in these matters apply to any pending award application from the individuals at any stage of the review process, as well as to any future award application from the individuals. As set forth in the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose any information that could reveal a whistleblower’s identity.
Think you might have a whistleblower claim? Call the Securities Lawyers at 212-509-6544
Have a securities law question? Call the Securities Lawyers at 212-509-6544.
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.