The SEC Division of Enforcement recently released its fiscal year 2016 budget request, providing a detailed account of the Division’s activities during FY 2014 as well as an estimated budget for upcoming years.
Of particular note, the Division set a record by obtaining judgments worth more than $4.16 billion in disgorgement and penalties. The Office of the Whistleblower received approximately 3,600 leads from whistleblowers (more tips than ever before), made the largest number of awards, and announced its largest single award ever to an individual ($30 million). During the same time period, the Division’s total costs came in around $455 million. Thus, for every dollar spent, the Division returned more than nine times that amount.
Critical to this growing success is the increasing number of whistleblowers who provide valuable insider information to the Division’s whistleblower office. As the report states, “Whistleblowers can often provide high-quality information that allows the Division to more quickly and efficiently detect and investigate alleged violations of the law.” Whistleblowers who provide information that leads to a successful enforcement action may be eligible to receive a whistleblower award of up to 30% of the money received by the government. “Staff from the Division’s Office of Market Intelligence (OMI) closely examine each tip to identify those that are sufficiently specific, credible, and timely to warrant the additional allocation of SEC resources.”
The Division’s report makes clear that momentum for the whistleblower program is building. “The Division anticipates that these significant payments will further incentivize whistleblowers to come forward and submit high quality tips. In turn, the Division expects to initiate more investigations and to bring enforcement actions against violators where it would otherwise have not had sufficient information to do so.”
As those in the whistleblower community have long held, incentivizing integrity works. We would be well-served to encourage more whistleblowers to come forward and to allocate additional funds to properly investigate all whistleblower claims.
The SEC investigates and prosecutes potential violations of securities laws, including securities fraud.
If you are aware of securities fraud or government contracting fraud, and are looking for a qui tam attorney to explore filing a False Claims Act case or to submit information to the SEC Office of the Whistleblower, Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered has years of expertise in this unique area of whistleblower law. Please feel free to contact us.