December 22, 2020
Authored by: Mark Srere and Jennifer Mammen
On December 14, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced an award of more than $300,000 to a whistleblower who uncovered potential securities law violations in connection with audit-related responsibilities. The whistleblower met with the SEC more than a dozen times and provided “high quality information and continuing assistance,” including identifying additional witnesses. This is only the fourth time that the SEC has issued an award to an audit or compliance professional.
In announcing the award, Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, stated: “This award is an example of the important role that audit and compliance professionals can play in assisting the Commission’s enforcement efforts, especially when the entity is attempting to thwart an investigation.” Compliance and audit professionals often have access to information that may evidence legal violations, as well as responsibilities to prevent or mitigate such violations. While compliance and internal audit professionals generally are not considered eligible for whistleblower awards under the Program, there are three exceptions in which such personnel may become eligible whistleblowers: