The SEC’s FY 2020 OWB Annual Report (sec.gov) marks 10 years since inception of the Whistleblower Program, and the reported achievements highlight its exponential growth. In FY 2020, the Office of the Whistleblower received the most tips, processed the most award claims, had its largest aggregate total of money awarded to whistleblowers, and had the largest number of whistleblower awardees in the program’s history. FY 2020 also featured the then-largest award to an individual whistleblower, although that was subsequently surpassed.
As reflected in the report, over the life of the SEC Whistleblower Program, tips have contributed to recovery of more than $2.7 billion in monetary sanctions, including over $1.5 billion in disgorgement, with over $850 million returned or scheduled to be returned to harmed investors. The SEC awarded approximately $562 million to 106 whistleblowers during that time.
Other key statistics from the report include:
- In FY 2020, the SEC awarded approximately $175 million to 39 individuals, both records for the program. Previous highs were in FY 2018: $168 million and 13 individual awardees. Thus, there were three times as many awardees in FY 2020 as the program had ever had before.
- A then-record award of nearly $50 million was paid to an individual whistleblower in FY 2020, but was “eclipsed” early in FY 2021 by an award of over $114 million.
- Over 6,900 whistleblower tips were filed in FY 2020.
- The SEC issued Final Orders for 197 individual award claims in FY 2020, and also processed 315 claims to Preliminary Determination.
- The same five states that yielded the highest number of whistleblower tips in FY 2019 – California, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, and Texas – again yielded the highest number of tips in FY 2020.
- Likewise, the top-three most common SEC complaint categories reported by whistleblowers remained the same: Corporate Disclosures and Financials (25%), Offering Fraud (16%), and Manipulation (14%).
- The new category Crypto Currency which debuted as the fourth most common complaint in FY 2019 slipped to fifth, with Insider Trading moving up to fourth place, although the numbers of tips received in these categories were very close (369 vs. 345, respectively).