A foreign whistleblower will receive an award of over $30 million from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the agency said on Monday. According to the Wall Street Journal, this is the largest award since the SEC program began in 2011, more than double the highest previous award.
The award comes soon after Attorney General Eric Holder said he wanted to increase whistleblower payouts as an incentive.
The SEC is not revealing the whistleblower’s identity, nor the case. In a statement, director of the SEC’s enforcement division Andrew Ceresney said that “this whistleblower came to us with information about an ongoing fraud that would have been very difficult to detect.”
The payout could have been even larger if the whistleblower reported the misconduct sooner, Wall Street Journal reports. A heavily redacted SEC order shows that the award was reduced because the whistleblower delayed reporting the issue after learning about it.
The award shows that the whistleblower program can benefit non-U.S. residents and citizens alike. Sean McKessy, the SEC’s whistleblower chief, said “Whistleblowers from all over the world should feel similarly incentivized to come forward with credible information about potential violations of the U.S. securities laws,” Wall Street Journal reports. The agency said that out of the 14 tipsters who have received awards, four have lived outside the U.S.
People in 55 foreign countries submitted tips to the SEC’s whistleblower program in fiscal 2013, the agency said. The greatest number of overseas tipsters came from United Kingdom, Canada and China. During that period, whistleblowers submitting information from a different country accounted for 12 percent of the tipsters participating in the program.
The SEC whistleblower program was established by the Dodd-Frank financial law in 2010. As part of this program, whistleblowers can receive between 10 and 30 percent of collected penalties if their information results in SEC enforcement actions with sanctions greater than $1 million. The identity of the tipster is kept hidden so little information is shared when an award is announced.