The Small Firm for Big Cases

SEC Whistleblower Program Sets Record on Road to Strong 2023

As we enter the final quarter of fiscal year 2023 [1], all indications point to another banner year for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program. The SEC has announced eight awards to whistleblowers that exceeded $10 million so far in FY 2023, five of which were $20 million or more. [2] 

In each case, the whistleblower made an impactful contribution to the SEC’s enforcement efforts. As the SEC’s Director of Enforcement, Gurbir S. Grewal, stated on May 5, 2023, the whistleblower program has been a “tremendous success… that directly benefits investors, as whistleblower tips have contributed to enforcement actions resulting in orders requiring bad actors to disgorge more than $4 billion in ill-gotten gains and interest.”

SEC Award Sets the Record

Most notably, on May 5, 2023, the SEC grabbed headlines when it announced the largest award in the whistleblower program’s history – a whopping $279 million. The SEC credited the whistleblower with proving assistance that was critical to the success of the government’s investigation.

The SEC has not identified the record-setting whistleblower or the alleged wrongdoer, but that’s not surprising. SEC whistleblowers can report and submit tips anonymously through an attorney, and the SEC is required to keep whistleblower identities confidential with certain limited exceptions. 17 CFR § 240.21F-7

Regardless, there is no doubt that this whistleblower’s assistance contributed to a very significant enforcement action resulting in massive financial sanctions paid to the government. The maximum SEC whistleblower award can be as high as 30% of the government’s recovery. 17 CFR § 240.21F-5. Therefore, we know that the wrongdoer(s) paid substantially more than the award.

Other Recent Milestones

This is just one of several records set by the SEC whistleblower program in recent years as it continues to flourish as an indispensable part of the SEC’s enforcement efforts.

In fiscal year 2021, the SEC whistleblower program awarded $564 million to 108 whistleblowers – the most in a single year. That included the prior record for the program’s largest award, $114 million, and other significant awards of $110 million, $50 million, and $36 million.

Last year, the program set a record for the largest number of tips it had ever received (12,322). It also issued 103 awards totaling $229 million, helping the SEC surpass $1.3 billion paid in awards and $6.3 billion in ordered monetary sanctions in enforcement cases brought using information from whistleblowers since inception of the program.

When the final tally is in, we can expect 2023 to have been another strong year for the SEC’s whistleblower program.

About the Author

Attorney John T. Crutchlow

John T. Crutchlow is a former SEC Enforcement Division attorney and a former Assistant United States Attorney with the Department of Justice where he specialized in civil fraud cases under the False Claims Act. He represents whistleblowers before the SEC, CFTC, and IRS, and in qui tam actions filed under the False Claims Act.



[1] The federal government’s fiscal year ends September 30.

[2] Some of these awards were shared among multiple whistleblowers.