SEC Whistleblower Awards Surpass $40 Million During First Four Months of 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought great uncertainty to American businesses, but this has not been accompanied by a relaxing of SEC oversight. In fact, the SEC Commission recently suspended the trading of suspicious stocks and issued several alerts warning investors of coronavirus-related scams.

Besides warning about questionable COVID-19 vaccine investments, the SEC has been busy investigating fraud and announcing multimillion-dollar whistleblower awards. The largest award of the year so far was announced on April 16. The informer in the case will receive $27 million for reporting misconduct involving a foreign country. This was the sixth-largest whistleblower award ever paid by the SEC. Since the implementation of the agency´s whistleblower program, 80 individuals have received monetary awards for assisting in fraud investigations.

The first four months of 2020 have seen a string of multimillion-dollar award announcements. On March 23, one whistleblower was awarded $1.6 million for providing information that allowed the SEC to detect early-stage fraud. On April 3, another tipster was awarded $2 million after blowing the whistle despite being threatened by the alleged fraudster. Then came the $27 million award mentioned above and a final $5 million award for a whistleblower who “suffered a unique hardship as a result of raising concerns internally,” according to the SEC. 

To be eligible for an SEC award, whistleblowers must provide information that is not publicly available. And, that exclusive information must lead to a successful enforcement action involving monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million. The agency keeps the identity of tipsters confidential all the way through award announcements. The most common types of fraud reported by SEC whistleblowers include instances of insider trading, market manipulation, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.

The SEC’s regional office in New York handles a large portion of the SEC’s fraud investigations. Whistleblowers from Wall Street banks and other NY-based financial institutions regularly provide valuable fraud tips to the agency’s Office of the Whistleblower. 

If 2019 alone, the Securities Exchange Commission received more than 5,200 tips from informers residing in the U.S. and 69 foreign countries. SEC whistleblowers have received awards amounting to over $430 million since the agency’s whistleblower program was implemented in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. 


Steve Halperin

New York trial attorney Steve T. Halperin is a well-known litigator with extensive knowledge of whistleblower laws and the New York False Claims Act. He has 28 years of experience as one of New York’s top tier attorneys. From the Manhattan offices of HalperinBikel, Steve’s whistleblower cases can run the gamut from lawsuits against healthcare. Whistleblowers: A New Yorker’s Step By Step Guide systems and providers cheating on New York Medicaid to private companies providing worthless services, or false billings by government contractors. With hundreds of winning verdicts and favorable settlements in healthcare and corporate cases, attorney Halperin’s meticulous preparation, courtroom acuity, and client-centered professionalism create remarkable outcomes.

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