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It was another year of exponential growth for the SEC’s whistleblower program. In November, the agency’s Office of the Whistleblower released its annual report for FY 2021, with the headline reveal that more whistleblower awards were made in that one year than in all prior years combined. Specifically, the agency reported that 108 whistleblowers received awards in FY 2021, versus a total of 106 whistleblowers who had received awards since the program’s inception in 2011.
The total amount awarded to whistleblowers in FY 2021 – approximately $564 million – also exceeded the total amount of approximately $562 million that had been awarded previously. The FY 2021 results also included two awards of $114 million apiece (one of which was split between two whistleblowers), which were the largest awards made in the program’s history.
Additionally, the Office of the Whistleblower reported that it received over 12,200 tips in FY 2021, the most in any fiscal year.
Beyond the numbers, the report touts enforcement actions brought in FY 2021 to enforce SEC rules preventing employers from engaging in retaliation or other measures to impede whistleblowers. It also discusses recent SEC rule-making with respect to the whistleblower program, acknowledging that certain controversial rules imposing limitations on awards were being reconsidered.
In announcing the record-breaking results, the SEC and its Office of the Whistleblower paid homage to “the courage and commitment” of the many whistleblowers who provided helpful tips. As stated in the report’s introduction, “[w]histleblowers make a tremendous contribution to the agency’s ability to detect securities law violations and protect investors and the marketplace.”