The SEC today announced awards totaling $50 million to "two whistleblowers whose high-quality information assisted the agency in bringing a successful enforcement action." The whistleblowers provided information that helped the agency win a $267 million settlement with JPMorgan over claims that the bank failed to inform wealthy clients of conflicts of interest in managing their money.
One of the whistleblowers will receive $13 million for reporting a tip to the SEC that led to a massive enforcement action charging J.P. Morgan. The second informant will receive $37 million, the third-biggest payout in the history of the SEC’s whistleblower program, the agency said in a statement. The SEC didn’t name the company involved or the people getting the awards, citing federal law that protects confidentiality.
Jordan A. Thomas, chair of Labaton Sucharow’s Whistleblower Representation Practice, served as counsel to the whistleblower, a J.P. Morgan executive, who cooperated in the agency’s investigation. The case, in which JPM agreed to pay $267 million to settle the charges in December 2015, is one of the largest enforcement actions initiated by an SEC whistleblower since the SEC Whistleblower Program was enacted.
“Blowing the whistle is rarely easy, and it certainly hasn’t been for my client, but this historic SEC whistleblower award and related enforcement action reaffirms that doing the right thing pays,” said Mr. Thomas, himself pocketing several million of the SEC award. “Thanks to the SEC Whistleblower Program, today corporate whistleblowers know that the Commission has their back and blowing the whistle anonymously dramatically increases the probability of a happy ending"... certainly one for the law firm which will likely keep about a third of the gross proceeds for filing some paperwork and sending out a few Fedexes.
In December 2015, JPMorgan agreed to pay more than $300 million to the SEC and to the CFTC when it admitted disclosure failures from 2008 to 2013 related to two units that manage money - its securities subsidiary and its nationally chartered bank - as part of the SEC settlement.
“Whistleblowers like those being awarded today may be the source of ‘smoking gun’ evidence and indispensable assistance that strengthens the agency’s ability to protect investors and the capital markets,” Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s whistleblower office, said in the agency’s statement.
As Bloomberg reminds us, tipsters are eligible for payouts if they voluntarily provide the SEC with unique information that leads to a successful enforcement action. Compensation can range from 10 to 30% of the money collected in a case where sanctions exceed $1 million. While the SEC has paid out about $376 million since issuing its first award in 2012, today's award was the agency’s first since September.