The United States Securities and Exchange Commission announced the payment of the highest award ever paid to a whistleblower since the awards were instituted by the Dodd-Frank Act, sanctioned in 2010.
Said award amounted to approximately US$279 million. The case involves a bribe by members of a telecommunications company in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Kuwait, and Indonesia, which went on from 2000 to 2016. It resulted in earnings of approximately $427 million using third parties to bribe employees especially in Saudi Arabia, China, and Djibouti. Thus, the company was forced into an agreement with the US government in March 2019, the basis of which having now amounted to US$ 1.1 billion.
In this specific case, it is important to note that two other whistleblowers also applied separately to receive the reward for a similar report. However, their requests were denied by the SEC, as such information was already known to the authorities through the report made by the first whistleblower.
Due to whistleblower protection rules, which prevent authorities from disclosing their identity, their name was not published. Still, this award far outweighs the highest award ever paid to date, which had reached US$ 83 million in 2018. The SEC made it clear that the whistleblower's ongoing assistance, including multiple interviews and written submissions, was critical to the successful outcome of the investigation.
Importantly, the award was paid to the whistleblower through an investor protection fund, set by the US Congress, which is financed entirely through monetary sanctions collected by the SEC from securities law violators. Therefore, no funds from injured investors were taken or retained to pay for the whistleblower's award.
In fact, any whistleblower can qualify for an award when they voluntarily provide the SEC with information that is true, timely, reliable, and likely to lead to successful action, while meeting the filing requirements in the whistleblowing rules. The said, awards for whistleblowers may vary from 10 to 30% of the amount of the monetary sanctions collected, provided that such amount is greater than US$ 1 million.