Our SEC Whistleblower Law Firm Focuses on SEC Fraud Reporting
Halperin Bikel Attorneys Help You Report Securities Fraud Anonymously and Maximize Rewards.
Each year, financial fraudsters mislead and steal countless millions of dollars from investors, stock holders and taxpayers. Without the help of SEC whistleblowers, many of these crimes would go unreported and unprosecuted. Thankfully, whistleblowers have a pathway to report fraud under the SEC Whistleblower Program.
What is the SEC Whistleblower Program?
The SEC Whistleblower Program was created through a provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a statute enacted by Congress in 2010 in an effort to curb financial fraud. Because federal investigators rely on information necessarily provided by employees on the inside to prosecute investor fraud, embezzlement, bribery and other financial crimes, Dodd-Frank offers significant protections and rewards to whistleblowers willing to come forward with useful evidence.
People who report fraud under the SEC Whistleblower Program are entitled to:
- A monetary reward up to 30% of the government’s recovery
- Privacy, thanks to an anonymous reporting process
- Protection from employer retaliation
Types of Fraud the Securities Exchange Commission Prosecutes
Fraud can be committed by any number of financial insiders, bankers, stock brokers, investors, accountants, stock holders and corporate officers of public companies. This type of fraud is often difficult to detect, because the people conducting it go to great lengths to conceal their schemes.
The forms of fraud most frequently reported to the SEC include one or a combination of the following:
- FALSE OR MISLEADING STATEMENTS About A Publicly Held Stock
- FALSE OR MISLEADING CYBERSECURITY DISCLOSURES Revealed By Cybersecurity Whistleblowers
- FALSE BOOKS & RECORDS Often Termed Accounting Fraud
- BRIBERY OF FOREIGN OFFICIALS
- STOCK PRICING SCHEMES Which Includes “Pump And Dump” Machinations
- ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING (AML) Violations
- INVESTMENT & SECURITIES FRAUD
- BLOCKCHAIN AND ICO FRAUD Reported By Cryptocurrency Whistle Blowers
Other terms and types of fraud when related to a public company are insider trading, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, noncompliance with auditor independence rules, hedge and mutual fund fraud, misrepresentation of corporate finances, Ponzi and pyramid schemes.
Financial crimes may directly target a handful of victims, but in many cases they harm all American taxpayers. Whistleblowers play an important role in holding fraudsters accountable.
SEC Whistleblowers May Receive Multi-Million-Dollar Payouts
Information from whistleblowers is so important and necessary to successful government investigations that anyone who provides substantial assistance may be entitled to a significant financial award.
Whistleblowers can receive between 10% and 30% of any money recovered by the government through penalties, fines, interest or legal damages, so long as the total of recoveries and penalties exceeds $1 million.
Although the $1 million threshold may appear to limit whistleblower rewards, many financial fraud schemes are wide in scope and involve millions of dollars, and the government only pursues the most significant cases. Therefore, most SEC cases easily surpass $1 million. Once that criteria is met, there is no ceiling to what a whistleblower can earn.
Since the Dodd-Frank Act was passed in 2010, the SEC has recovered more than $2 billion thanks to tips from whistleblowers. In return, the agency has awarded more than $500 million to those whistleblowers, with the highest award topping $50 million.
As most people with inside knowledge of corporate misconduct are employees or ex-employees, the law protects them from employer retaliation.
Halperin Bikel lawyers know how to prepare, package and present your case so that it will attract the interest of the federal prosecutors who sift through literally thousands of complaints each year to select the handful they will pursue.
Dodd-Frank Retaliation Protections for Whistleblowers
Dodd-Frank is clear that employers cannot retaliate against employees for giving information to the SEC; testifying or otherwise assisting with an SEC investigation; or making disclosures required under the law.
- Fire or discharge you
- Demote you or move you to a less desirable role
- Suspend you
- Threaten you
- Harass or discriminate against you
If your employer does any of these things, the SEC may bring an enforcement action against them, and you may receive damages, double back pay, reinstatement to your position and attorney’s fees.
These rules apply to every employer, both public and private.
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You Can Report Fraud Anonymously – Your Identity is Protected
In addition to financial rewards and retaliation protections, Dodd-Frank provides whistleblowers with comprehensive privacy protections.
The SEC Whistle Blower Program offers absolute confidentiality for whistleblowers who are represented by an attorney.
If you’re concerned about your identity becoming public, your lawyer can submit your tip on your behalf. Your conversations with your lawyer are protected under attorney-client privilege, and even the SEC will not know your identity.
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10 Step Guide to Reporting & Rewards
Who Is Eligible to Be an SEC Whistleblower?
The SEC Whistleblower Program requires that tipsters meet certain criteria in order to receive a payout. But don’t assume you might be barred from a reward without speaking to a lawyer first.
You may be surprised who is eligible to become an SEC whistleblower.
- You can be a citizen of any country.
- You need not be a U.S. citizen or resident to earn an SEC whistleblower reward. In some cases, even foreign fraud can be reported to the SEC if it involves a U.S. public company or substantially affects the U.S. economy.
- The fraud doesn’t need to have happened yet.
- If you know of a plot to defraud investors, stock holders or the general public, you can report it, even if no one has been defrauded yet. If you have a good faith belief that fraud is going to happen, you can still earn a reward.
- In some cases, accountants, compliance personnel, in-house lawyers and corporate officers are eligible for a reward.
- Although these professionals have an inherent duty to report misconduct, in some cases they can earn an SEC award. However, they face additional scrutiny and must be very careful in how they report, making it critical that they be represented by a lawyer expert in these sensitive situations.
- You don’t need to be an insider where the fraud is happening.
- Although many whistleblowers are employees of the fraudulent entity, that’s not a requirement. So long as you have independent and original knowledge of fraud, it often doesn’t matter how you got it.
- You may be able to earn a reward even if you were complicit in the fraud.
- So long as you were not the mastermind behind the fraud or criminally charged for it, you may receive a whistleblower reward. The SEC may choose to reduce your reward, but you are not barred from working with an attorney to report an anonymous tip. These cases are always specific fact sensitive so speak with your SEC whistleblower lawyer for information on your situation.
If you meet reporting requirements, there are two important things you should be aware of:
- Your information must be original and provided voluntarily.
- The information provided to the government must come from your own independent knowledge and not from a publicly available source. It must be previously unknown to the SEC and you must be the first to report it. Additionally, it should be provided voluntarily, meaning that you are not under an order from a regulatory or law enforcement agency.
- You must be careful about any confidential documents you share with investigators.
- Courts have determined that Dodd-Frank supersedes confidentiality agreements, and whistleblowers are permitted to take confidential documents that disclose fraud. However, whistleblowers cannot take documents indiscriminately. You should work closely with an SEC whistleblower lawyer to ensure that you are not putting your case in jeopardy.
If you submit information under your own name, the SEC will still protect your identity to the best of its ability, although your information may be shared with courts or other government agencies.
How to Report Fraud to the SEC Whistleblower Office and Maximize Your Reward
If you have knowledge of fraud, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer. It is possible to report information directly to the SEC, but your identity will not necessarily be kept confidential, and your chances of earning the maximum reward plummet. In addition, the SEC only chooses to pursue the strongest cases, and you cannot pursue a case on your own.
The largest awards are given to whistleblowers who:
- Submit their tip early.
- Provide original information.
- Cooperate with the SEC investigation.
- Did not participate in the fraud.
- Work with lawyers.
Act quickly to preserve your rights as typically the first to report the misconduct will get the entirety or at least the lionshare of any SEC cash rewards.