The Securities and Exchange Commission last week made two whistleblower awards totaling $4.3 million that went to clients of Phillips & Cohen LLP.
The SEC awarded over $3.6 million to a Phillips & Cohen client who lives overseas. The second whistleblower award was for $750,000 and was made to a client in a separate case.
The overseas whistleblower filed and at first pursued a whistleblower claim without any legal counsel. But after the SEC made a preliminary decision that the award would be the minimum amount required by law – 10% of the monetary sanctions – the whistleblower hired Phillips & Cohen.
As a result of Phillips & Cohen’s work on behalf of its client, the SEC increased the award by well over twice the amount recommended in the preliminary decision.
“Our client provided substantial information, documentation and assistance to the SEC about misconduct occurring abroad, which is unlikely the SEC would have ever discovered,” said Erika Kelton, a whistleblower attorney and partner with Phillips & Cohen. “Our client even traveled to another country more than once at the client’s own expense to meet with SEC staff.
“Because of our client’s decision to report the misconduct to the SEC, our client suffered employment retaliation and threats,” Kelton said. “Our client and our client’s family feared for their lives.”
In the order for the award issued last week, the SEC said the whistleblower “took exceptional steps to report the misconduct from abroad and provided extraordinary assistance.”
“We are pleased that the SEC was willing to take another look at the key role our client played in the enforcement action and recognize what that cost our client personally and professionally,” Kelton said. “Our client is very grateful to the SEC for reconsidering the preliminary award decision.”
Both whistleblowers represented by Phillips & Cohen choose to remain anonymous, although their identities are known to the SEC.
Phillips & Cohen has won a total of eight awards for clients under the Dodd-Frank whistleblower programs: seven from the SEC and one from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. That includes the largest SEC award made to an international whistleblower, more than $32 million.
Individuals with knowledge of securities law violations may file a whistleblower report with the SEC. The law protects SEC whistleblowers from job retaliation and offers them rewards if the SEC pursues a successful enforcement action and monetary sanctions exceed $1 million. Whistleblowers may receive 10% to 30% of the monetary sanctions collected. The reward is paid from an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions that securities law violators paid to the SEC.
About Phillips & Cohen LLP
Phillips & Cohen is the nation’s most successful law firm representing whistleblowers. The firm’s cases have helped recover more than $12.3 billion in civil settlements and criminal fines. Phillips & Cohen represents whistleblowers in SEC whistleblower claims as well as in qui tam lawsuits and whistleblower claims with the CFTC and the IRS. Its roster includes the founding Chief of the SEC Office of the Whistleblower, former government prosecutors and attorneys with decades of experience representing whistleblowers. www.phillipsandcohen.com