A persistent whistleblower who repeatedly tried to alert the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to wrongdoing — and suffered for it — is the latest recipient of a financial payout.

The SEC announced that a pair of whistleblowers will receive more than US$16 million for tipping off the agency to misconduct and aiding its eventual investigation.

The initial tipster was awarded US$13 million and a second whistleblower received US$3.3 million.

According to an SEC order, the first whistleblower, who received the larger payout, “persistently alerted the commission to the ongoing abusive practices for a number of years before the investigation was opened,” whereas the second tipster delayed reporting for several years after discovering the misconduct.

The first tipster was deemed to have contributed more to the ultimate success of the SEC’s enforcement action, including being the original source of information that led the regulator to open an investigation — exposing abuses that would have been hard to uncover otherwise — and providing “extensive and ongoing assistance” during the investigation.

Additionally, the primary whistleblower “made persistent efforts to remedy the issues, while suffering hardships,” the SEC’s order said.

The second person who came forward later also provided valuable information to the regulator that gave investigators “a more complete picture of how events from an earlier period impacted the firm’s practices,” and gave the regulator information that it was able to use in settlement discussions with the firm, the order said.

“These whistleblowers reported critical information that aided the SEC’s investigation and provided extensive, ongoing cooperation that helped stop the wrongdoing and protect the capital markets,” said Creola Kelly, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.

With these latest awards, the SEC has now paid more than US$1.3 billion in financial awards to 281 whistleblowers since the program began in 2012.