Sean McKessy, chief of Office of the Whistleblower at the Securities and Exchange Commission, will leave the agency later this month, the SEC announced Friday. Deputy Chief Jane Norberg will serve as acting chief.
“The SEC’s whistleblower program has had a transformative impact on the agency, and Sean’s service as the first head of the Whistleblower Office has contributed greatly to the program’s success,” Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, said in a statement.
That success includes awards of over $85 million to 32 whistleblowers. The office has received over 14,000 tips from every state and 95 foreign countries, resulting in sanctions of more than $504 million.
The office has also worked to protect tippers from retribution by employers. The Dodd-Frank Act authorized the SEC to bring action against companies that retaliated against whistleblowers, and in June 2014, the SEC initiated its first such action, charging Paradigm Capital Management with engaging in prohibited principal transactions, then forcing the resignation of the trader who reported the violations. In April the following year, that trader was awarded over $600,000 for his efforts.
The same month, the SEC initiated its first action against a firm for including “improperly restrictive language in confidentiality agreements” with employees that could limit their ability to report wrongdoing they witness. The SEC charged Houston-based global technology and engineering firm KBR Inc. with violating whistleblower protection Rule 21F-17, Melanie Waddell reported on ThinkAdvisor in April.