Earlier this week, the SEC announced two pretty substantial whistleblower awards — a joint $2.5 million award and a $1.25 million award — which looked like a lead-up to yesterday’s highly anticipated open meeting, at which the Commission would consider adopting amendments to its whistleblower program. Late Tuesday, however, the SEC posted a cancellation notice for the open meeting, and while sometimes the Commission still moves forward with rule adoption in that scenario, it’s not the case this time around (at least so far).
While the rulemaking delay might be a function of holiday schedules, given the controversial nature of the proposed amendments, a WSJ article notes that it’s the second time rulemaking has been called off and speculates that the Commissioners may not have reached consensus quite yet. The article summarizes the history behind the proposed changes. Here’s an excerpt:
The regulator unveiled the proposed changes in 2018. Under the whistleblower program, tipsters who provide information that leads to a successful enforcement action against a company can be eligible for an award of between 10% and 30% of the overall monetary sanction.
Whistleblower advocates have supported changes that the SEC says would make it more efficient in processing claims, including one that would allow it to ban tipsters who provide false information or make repeated, frivolous claims.
But they have mounted a vocal opposition to several other amendments, including one that would allow the SEC to downsize awards for information that leads to fines of $100 million or more, simply because of their size. The amendment would disincentivize the highest-paid Wall Street insiders from providing information, whistleblower lawyers have said.
Whistleblower advocates have also criticized new guidance that could restrict the type of information whistleblowers can be rewarded for providing, and a new rule that disqualifies tipsters who don’t submit a special form before contacting the SEC.
-Liz Dunshee, TheCorporateCounsel.net September 3, 2020