The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday that is has awarded its first whistleblower award to an employee who performed audit and compliance functions.
The employee, who was awarded more than $300,000, reported wrongdoing to the SEC after the company failed to take action when the employee reported it internally.
“Individuals who perform internal audit, compliance and legal functions for companies are on the front lines in the battle against fraud and corruption,” said Sean McKessy, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, in a statement. “They often are privy to the very kinds of specific, timely and credible information that can prevent an imminent fraud or stop an ongoing one. These individuals may be eligible for an SEC whistleblower award if their companies fail to take appropriate, timely action on information they first reported internally.”
The whistleblower award recipient reported concerns of wrongdoing to appropriate personnel within the company, including a supervisor, the SEC says, but when the company took no action on the information within 120 days, the whistleblower reported the same information to the SEC.
The information provided by the whistleblower led directly to an SEC enforcement action.
The SEC’s whistleblower program rewards high-quality, original information that results in an SEC enforcement action with sanctions exceeding $1 million. Whistleblower awards can range from 10% to 30% of the money collected in a case.
By law, the SEC must protect the confidentiality of whistleblowers, but a recent recipient of a whisteblower award decided to tell his story about the complaint he made to the SEC after exposing serious flaws in two of MassMutual’s variable annuities, the Guaranteed Income Benefit Plus 5 and 6.
The whistleblower, insurance agent Bill Lloyd, was awarded $400,000. After his attempts to get the issue resolved internally failed and when the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority didn’t step in, Lloyd, too, turned to the SEC for help.
Check out The Man Who Blew the Whistle on ThinkAdvisor.