Thursday, August 8, 2019


A financial adviser that provided a tip through his broker-dealer’s compliance department recently received a whistleblower award of $4.5 million.  In late May, the SEC accepted the Claims Review Staff’s Preliminary Determination recommending that hefty award.  

The SEC’s analysis hinged on the application of Exchange Act Rule 21F-4: whether “original information submitted by a whistleblower led to the successful enforcement of a judicial or administrative action.”  Rule 21F-4(c)(3) even allows for whistleblower status if you “reported [the] original information through [your broker-dealer’s] internal whistle blower, legal or compliance procedures for reporting allegations of possible violations of house before or at the same time of law before or at the same time to reported them to the Commission . . . You must also submit the information the Commission . . . within 120 days of providing it to the entity.  (Emphasis Added). 

This last clause is your key takeaway from this blog.  If you provide original information to your compliance department but fail to follow through with the Commission, you might lose out on millions of dollars!  It is also important to understand that 1) you are taking a risk, 2) the compliance or legal department might not investigate and report to the SEC without a push, and 3) Rule 240 is an extensive fine-print maze of definitions and procedures.  In sum, you should obtain legal counsel to help you evaluate your “original information” and guide you through a complicated process that can take years to run its course. 

There are many attorneys out there claiming on their websites that they represent whistleblowers. But if you are a financial advisor or investment adviser what you need is an attorney that has experience representing whistleblowers in the financial industry. Food for thought.

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