SEC Whistleblower Award Program Sees Increased Activity during 2014
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a press release announcing increased activity in its SEC whistleblower award program during the 2014 fiscal year.
The highlights that the SEC reported for 2014 included
- Nine (9) SEC whistleblowers received SEC whistleblower rewards (disclaimer: one of those SEC whistleblowers who received an award was a client of the Pickholz Law Offices)
- The SEC gave out approximately $35 million in SEC whistleblower awards
- The SEC whistleblower program gave out one SEC whistleblower award of more than $30 million, which was the largest award given out so far
- The SEC brought its first SEC whistleblower protection case by charging a company for illegally retaliating against an SEC whistleblower
The press release also described some of the types of cases that the SEC brought against companies and individuals during fiscal year 2014.
A potential SEC whistleblower or SEC whistleblower attorney might want to take note of the kinds of cases listed in the press release. They are examples of the kinds of frauds and violations that the SEC has taken interest in recently. They may also serve as indications of some of the kinds of cases that the SEC might be interested in hearing about during the remainder of 2014 and throughout 2015.
Among the types of cases mentioned in the SEC press release were:
- Violations relating to reporting and disclosures. The SEC charged more than 135 parties with these kinds of violations during FY 2014.
- Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations. According to the press release, the SEC filed “significant” actions against several large companies. In a case against former executives of yet another company who were charged with bribery in Argentina, the SEC obtained its highest-ever FCPA penalties against individuals.
- “Pay-to-play” violations
- “Gatekeeper” cases against accountants and auditors. For example, the SEC brought a case against a big-four accounting firm for violating auditor independence rules, and brought a case against another audit firm for its role in the failed audits of three China-based companies.
- “Gatekeeper” cases against compliance professionals. For example, the SEC brought a case against the chair of a company’s audit committee who learned of certain misconduct and failed to take meaningful action to investigate it or to disclose it to investors.
- “Gatekeeper” cases against lawyers
- Violations involving mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations
- Insider trading. During FY 2014, the SEC brought charges against 80 people for insider trading.
- Deceiving brokerage customers with hidden fees
- Fraud on clients concerning trading prices
- Net capital rule violations
- Unregistered investment advisers
- Municipal securities frauds and violations, such as the failure to follow appropriate standards of disclosure in securities issuances by state and local governments. For example, the SEC brought cases against a Chicago suburb and its comptroller, against the state of Kansas, and against a California school district.
- International investment frauds, including those that spread through social media and those that targeted, among others, immigrant communities. During FY 2014, the SEC brought these kinds of cases against more than 20 parties, not including cases brought against related parties.
- Market manipulation and microcap fraud, including cases where stock promoters and others created false appearances of genuine interest in various stocks.
- Ponzi schemes
- Other kinds of frauds and violations
If you are considering whether to report a fraud to the SEC and would like more information about the SEC whistleblower reward program, please click here. You can view a copy of the SEC press release by clicking here.
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About the Pickholz Law Offices LLC
The Pickholz Law Offices LLC is a law firm that focuses on representing clients involved with investigations conducted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, FINRA, and other securities regulators.
The Pickholz Law Offices has represented employees, officers, and others 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. Inside Counsel magazine named this achievement one of the five key events of the SEC whistleblower program. Examples of the Firm’s SEC whistleblower cases are available here.
In addition to representing SEC whistleblowers, since 1995 the Firm’s founder, Jason R. Pickholz, has also represented many clients in securities enforcement investigations conducted by the SEC, FINRA, the U.S. Department of Justice and US Attorney’s Offices, State authorities, and more. Examples of some of the many securities enforcement cases that Mr. Pickholz has been involved with are available here.
You can see what actual clients have had to say about The Pickholz Law Offices by going to the Client Reviews page on our website or by clicking here.
How to Contact the Pickholz Law Offices LLC
If you would like to speak with a securities lawyer or SEC whistleblower attorney, please feel free to call Jason R. Pickholz at 347-746-1222.
The Pickholz Law Offices remains open and will be fully operational through teleworking while we all grapple with this terrible pandemic. We hope that all of our clients, colleagues, friends, and their families remain safe and healthy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been affected by COVID-19.