WASHINGTON, DC – The largest Securities and Exchange Commission whistleblower reward so far — more than $32 million — has been awarded to a Phillips & Cohen client.
The international whistleblower will receive the record SEC reward for providing information and assistance that led to a substantial recovery by the federal government.
“Our client exposed extraordinarily deceitful and opportunistic practices that were deeply entrenched and well hidden,” said Erika A. Kelton, a Washington, DC, attorney with Phillips & Cohen LLP, which specializes in representing whistleblowers. “Federal regulators never would have known about this fraud otherwise, and the scheme to cheat investors likely would have continued indefinitely.”
To encourage whistleblowers who often put their jobs and careers at risk by reporting wrongdoing, the Dodd-Frank Act allows an SEC whistleblower to remain anonymous to the fullest extent allowed by the law. The whistleblower in this case is a foreign citizen.
“I was very concerned that investors were being cheated out of millions of dollars and that the company was misleading them about its actions,” said Phillips & Cohen’s whistleblower client. “Deception had become an accepted business practice.”
Phillips & Cohen’s client provided extensive assistance to the SEC. The company went to great lengths to conceal the fraud, which raked in millions for the company.
“The SEC was extremely responsive and acted quickly after our client provided detailed information about the fraud,” Kelton said. “It immediately launched an investigation.”
Kelton praised government enforcement officials for their work, particularly the SEC Whistleblower Office, the SEC Division of Enforcement, the Justice Department’s Fraud Section and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“This case demonstrates how effective the SEC whistleblower program is,” Kelton said. “Federal enforcement officials worked closely with the whistleblower to stop a scheme that hurt investors, and by doing so the government was able to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions. Whistleblowers and investors are fortunate to have Sean McKessy leading the SEC Whistleblower Office.”
Dodd-Frank Act authorizes the SEC to pay whistleblowers 10 percent to 30 percent of the amount collected as a result of the whistleblower’s information. The reward comes from a special award fund Congress created and does not affect the amount the government collects or the amount returned to investors.
For more information, see the SEC press release, “SEC Announces Largest-Ever Whistleblower Award.”
Note: As of January 2020, Phillips & Cohen has won four SEC whistleblower awards for its clients.