There were a few gasps late on Tuesday when the SEC declared that it was awarding more than $14m to an unnamed whistleblower, whose information had helped the US authorities recover “substantial” investor funds in an unnamed case.
That’s quite a prize and will no doubt encourage other would-be latter-day bounty hunters. But there is evidence that the SEC really didn’t want to set this sort of precedent at all.
To put things in context, the first SEC whistleblower payout, in August of last year, ran to $50,000. Then, over the summer, three whistleblowers who brought down a sham hedge fund collected an initial $25,000, with payments in that case expected to top $125,000 once all sanctions have been collected.
The rules state that whistleblowers can expected to receive between 10 and 30 per cent of any fines or sanction levied by the SEC — so this $14m award points to a pretty large case.
But also consider this. Click to read:
A whistleblower-turned-litigant, perhaps?
Some unintended consequences may be at play here.
Calling all fraudulent hedgie bounty hunters – FT Alphaville