Questions Clients Often Ask An SEC Whistleblower Law Firm
As an SEC whistleblower lawyer, I often hear questions like “How many whistleblower tips does the SEC get each year?” “How many tips get through to the investigation stage?” and other similar questions. It is not uncommon for a client to ask one or more of these questions when interviewing a potential SEC whistleblower law firm.
Because the SEC whistleblower program has not been around for decades, there is not a lot of hard data about it yet. This can sometimes make it difficult for an SEC whistleblower lawyer to answer questions about it with a high degree of specificity. For an SEC whistleblower law firm, this problem is compounded by the fact that the SEC has only kept full-year statistics on its whistleblower program since fiscal year 2012.
SEC Annual Report: A Wealth of Data for an SEC Whistleblower Law Firm
Fortunately, every year the SEC is required to submit an annual report to Congress on the SEC whistleblower program. This report can be a valuable resource for an SEC whistleblower law firm, and for potential SEC whistleblowers.
The SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower (“OWB”) recently released its annual report to Congress for fiscal year 2016 (the “Report”). This year’s Report states that:
- In FY 2016, the SEC gave out more than $57 million in whistleblower awards, “higher than all award amounts issued in previous years combined”.
- Six of the ten largest SEC whistleblower awards were given out in FY 2016, an indication that the SEC whistleblower program is growing. (Report, p. 10.)
- Since the inception of the SEC whistleblower program, the Commission has awarded more than $111 million. (Report, p. 1.)
- In FY 2016, The SEC received over 4,218 tips from whistleblowers, “a more than 40 percent increase” since FY 2012. (Report, pp. 1, 23.)
- Since August 2011, the SEC has received 18,334 whistleblower tips. (Report, p. 23.)
According to the report, the OWB “tracks whistleblower tips that are referred to Enforcement staff for investigation or follow-up. OWB is currently tracking over 800 matters in which a whistleblower’s tip has caused a Matter Under Inquiry or investigation to be opened or which have been forwarded to Enforcement staff for review and consideration in connection with an ongoing investigation.” (Report, p. 27.)
There are some variables that I do not have data for. But based on these figures, a reasonable estimate would be that approximately 5%-7% of all whistleblower tips that the SEC receives cause investigations to be opened or substantially contribute to ongoing investigations. These are prerequisites to obtaining an SEC whistleblower award.
For Those Considering Whether to Hire an SEC Whistleblower Law Firm
For potential SEC whistleblowers, these percentages are important. They highlight the importance of hiring a knowledgeable SEC whistleblower law firm. An experienced SEC whistleblower law firm can help to focus the facts and issues, connect them to the securities laws, and present them in a compelling way. These things will hopefully increase the chances of a tip leading to the opening of an investigation or substantially assisting in an already ongoing investigation.
This comports with comments made in a speech by the SEC’s Director of Enforcement in September. In his speech, the Director said that the SEC welcomes the involvement of SEC whistleblower law firms. He also described some of the ways that they can add value to the SEC whistleblower process. You can read my post about the Director’s speech here.
The SEC’s Annual Report to Congress on the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program contains a lot of other interesting information. If you would like to read the Report for FY 2016, you can find it by clicking on the link next to the picture above.
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The Pickholz Law Offices, an SEC whistleblower law firm, has represented employees, officers, and directors in SEC whistleblower cases involving financial institutions and public companies listed in the Fortune Top 10, Top 20, Top 50, Top 100, Top 500, and the Forbes Global 2000. We were the first law firm ever to win an SEC whistleblower award for a client on appeal to the full Commission in Washington, an achievement that Inside Counsel magazine named as one of the milestones of the SEC whistleblower program.
For more information about The Pickholz Law Offices, you can click on any of the links to the right and top of this page.
If you would like to speak with an SEC whistleblower attorney, please feel free to call Jason R. Pickholz at 347-746-1222.
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