When you suspect a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) violation, you can be compensated for reporting it. Congress added provisions for whistleblower rewards when they created the Dodd-Frank Act. The awards are designed to encourage people with inside knowledge to help the government prosecute anyone who violates securities laws. If your report brings about successful enforcement actions and civil penalties worth more than $1 million, you could receive 10 to 30 percent of the money collected by the government.
Since 2011, the SEC Whistleblower office has collected more than $1.5 billion in sanctions from violators. Whistleblowers help the SEC to investigate and prosecute investment fraud. Over time, there have been more than 22,000 tips received.
Reporting SEC Violations
If you believe that someone is violating securities laws, you can potentially recover an award. The right lawyer can help you maximize your award percentage and investigate the case. Since the start of the SEC Whistleblower program, whistleblowers have received more than $322 million in awards. At LabatonSucharow, their clients have received the largest awards in SEC history. In fact, they represented the first officer of a public company to get a whistleblower award.
To ensure that you get the best award possible, you need to determine more than just your eligibility. Many lawyers start by looking at eligibility before they investigate the rest of the case. Instead, you need to figure out if there is a material violation of securities laws. The SEC whistleblower tip must be about a serious enough crime for the SEC to investigate.
The SEC has a limited budget, so they can only investigate the best tips. With a lawyer, you can find proof that someone violated the law. To do this, you have to find credible, specific information to support your case.
Determining Eligibility for a Whistleblower Award
Once your case has been investigated, the next step is to determine your eligibility. Your lawyer looks at your relationship to the company and how you received your information. An auditor might be eligible for an award if they believe that the company’s conduct may cause substantial injury to the investors or the organization. In this example, the auditor would also need to wait at least 120 days after disclosing the information to the organization. The time clock also begins once the auditor is aware that the organization’s officers already knew about the problem.
There are a lot of factors that go into determining whether someone is eligible for a whistleblower award. Because of this, it is important to hire a qualified attorney to represent your interests. Once you know that there is a problem, you need to act quickly. The amount of the award and whether you receive it are both determined by how quickly you report the problem.
To receive an award, you have to submit original information that the SEC does not already have. You cannot get the award if the SEC has information from their own research or from another whistleblower. If you have information about wrongdoing, you need to submit a tip before someone else turns in the same information. In 2015, about 20 percent of awards were reduced because there was an unreasonable reporting delay. By turning in your tip quickly, you can maximize the amount you receive.
An SEC whistleblower attorney can help you build a strong case. They have the skills and resources to investigate your claim, interview witnesses and file your legal documents properly. With the help of a lawyer, you can take the next step in getting the whistleblower award you deserve.