Businessman Blowing Whistle Isolated on White Background

With its 40th payout this year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has already surpassed last year’s record number of whistleblower awards.

The SEC said Monday that its latest bounty of over $500,000 went to a tipster who first tried reporting suspected misconduct internally before sharing concerns with the regulator.

“With this award, the commission has awarded 40 individuals this fiscal year, surpassing last year’s record of 39 individual awards,” said Jane Norberg, chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.

The SEC has now paid whistleblowers nearly US$200 million in its current fiscal year (which ends Sept. 30), Norberg noted. Last year’s total was $175 million.

Since 2012, the commission has paid approximately US$760 million to 145 individuals under its program of paying rewards for information that leads to successful enforcement action.

In the latest case, the whistleblower first reported suspected misconduct to their company, which led to an internal investigation, the commission said. The company then reported the issue to another agency, which passed the tip to the SEC.

The whistleblower also independently reported to the SEC. They qualified for an award under the SEC’s “safe harbour” provision, which treats internal tips as though they were reported to the SEC (as long as the tip is also shared with the SEC within 120 days of the initial report).

“The whistleblower’s information and assistance allowed the commission and another agency to quickly file actions, shutting down an ongoing fraudulent scheme,” the SEC said.