The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) paid its largest-ever whistleblower award to an informant whose “firsthand” information about fraud led to a successful enforcement action.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the whistleblower who received the record award is a trader with Bank of New York Mellon. The informant reportedly alerted the SEC to the bank’s pattern of “overcharging bid clients on currency trades.”
He also assisted the SEC with an investigation of the bank that reportedly spanned more than a decade. The fraudulent scheme involved “giving pension funds less-than-desirable exchange rates, helping the bank make massive profits from the difference,” CNN reported, citing WSJ.
The SEC’s order credits the whistleblower for providing firsthand observations of “misconduct by the company that was previously unknown to staff.” Throughout the investigation, the whistleblower “laid out in detail substantial aspects of the scheme and provided a road map for the investigation.”
According to the report, BNY Mellon paid more than $700 million in penalties for the violations in 2015 and didn’t deny the accusations in previous statements about the case.
Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s whistleblower office, said the latest award “marks several milestones for the whistleblower program.”
The award exceeds the previous record award given to a single informant by $11 million. Since the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act established the SEC’s whistleblower program in 2010, the commission has ordered violators to pay more than $2 billion in total monetary sanctions.
The SEC has paid more than $500 million to 83 informants since paying out its first award in 2012. In the last year alone, the commission has awarded whistleblowers more than $100 million.
“Whistleblowers have proven to be a critical tool in the enforcement arsenal to combat fraud and protect investors,” Commissioner Norberg said.
Under the SEC’s whistleblower program, informants who provide the agency with credible, original information that leads to a successful enforcement action of $1 million or more are entitled to receive between 10% and 30% of the money collected.
If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, contact one of the lawyers on our firm’s Whistleblower Litigation Team for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. Beasley Allen lawyers Larry Golston, Lance Gould, Paul Evans, Leslie Pescia, Leon Hampton, Tyner Helms and Lauren Miles are working in this area of law known as “qui tam” cases. A lawyer on the team will be glad to discuss the potential claim with you either in person or by phone.