The SEC has paid whistleblowers more than $50 million in the program's three years.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday that it has paid a whistleblower more than $3 million for helping the agency crack a “complex fraud.”

The payout to the company insider is the third highest award to date under the SEC’s whistleblower program.

The SEC says that the whistleblower’s “specific and detailed information comprehensively laid out the fraudulent scheme which otherwise would have been very difficult for investigators to detect.”

The whistleblower’s initial tip also led to related actions that increased the whistleblower’s award, the agency says.

“Insiders may hold the key to helping our investigators unlock intricate fraudulent schemes,” said Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a statement. “By providing significant financial incentives for people to come forward, the SEC’s whistleblower program continues to be profoundly effective in helping us protect investors and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

Sean McKessy, chief of the Office of the Whistleblower, added in the statement that the SEC “continues to receive thousands of whistleblower tips each year. When those tips bear fruit, those individuals, like today’s whistleblower, may receive significant financial awards.”

Whistleblower awards can range from 10% to 30% of the money collected in a case. The money paid to whistleblowers comes from an investor protection fund established by Congress. 

To date, the SEC has awarded 17 whistleblowers since its whistleblower program began more than three years ago. Payouts now total more than $50 million.

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