Publicity around sizable awards have contributed to an increase in the number in tips, said Sean McKessy, a partner at law firm Phillips & Cohen LLP, which represents whistleblowers … The increasing volume of awards demonstrates the program’s success and increases awareness, he added. “Success always breeds success,” said Mr. McKessy, who served as chief of the Office of the Whistleblower for the program’s first five years.
The program likely benefited from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning whistleblower protections, Mr. McKessy said. The court ruled in February that individuals must report alleged corporate wrongdoing to the SEC and not just their company to qualify for anti-retaliation protection provided by the Dodd-Frank Act.
The SEC said it saw an increase in the number of tips it received in the months following the Supreme Court’s ruling. The ruling, which also addressed the definition of who counts as a whistleblower, could push individuals to report the wrongdoings to the SEC, rather than internally, for fear of retaliation, said Mr. McKessy.
“If you worry about retaliation, you have no choice legally if you want to be protected to report to the SEC, said Mr. McKessy, adding that, as a result of the decision, his firm has also seen a number of people contacting the firm for legal advice on how to report to the regulatory body.