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SEC whistleblower program report shows continued success

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Whistleblower received nearly 4,000 whistleblower tips from every state and 61 different countries in the past year, according to a new report from the agency.

The 3,923 tips in FY 2015 were a slight increase from FY 2014, when 3,620 tips were received. There has been a consistent increase in tips since the inception of the SEC’s whistleblower program in 2011. FY 2011 only saw 334 tips submitted.

“We anticipate that the whistleblower program will continue to be ‘a game changer’ in the enforcement of the federal securities laws and the protection of investors and the marketplace ,” Sean McKesy, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said in the report.

Whistleblowers in California provided by far the most SEC tips of any state. The Golden State’s 646 tips in FY 2015 dwarfed the next closest states: New York had 261, while Texas as Florida had 220.

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Whistleblower tips to the SEC, broken down by state. Photo credit SEC Office of the Whistleblower.

This year also represented the largest haul for whistleblower awards since the program was instated. Of the $54 million in total paid out to whistleblowers since 2011, $37 million was paid out in 2015.

More than half of the total amount the SEC has awarded to whistleblowers has gone to Phillips & Cohen clients. That includes a reward of more than $30 million reward, the largest whistleblower reward in the program’s history, paid to an international Phillips & Cohen LLP client.

The report broke down the general profiles of all whistleblower award recipients as well, while maintaining their anonymity. Almost half of all award recipients were former or current employees of the company they blew the whistle on. Recipients included U.S. citizens as well as foreign nationals.

The same day the SEC released its report,  Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote a letter to SEC Commissioner Mary Jo White asking for further information about concerns laid out in a program analysis conducted by the Inspector General in 2013.

Despite concluding the SEC has been “generally prompt in responding to information that is provided by whistleblowers,” the investigation concluded that there were not enough metrics to determine whether a case has been handled in a timely fashion.

Warren and Grassley asked for an update on how those concerns have been handled.

World map of whistleblower tips to the SEC in 2015. Photo Credit SEC Office of the Whistleblower.
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