Calculating and Allocating Awards
Before you go about contesting any preliminary determinations, it might help to understand how the SEC goes about calculating its whistleblower awards in the first place. In general, whistleblowers who meet all the requirements are eligible to receive 10%-30% of the monetary sanctions collected by the SEC and related government authorities. If an award involves multiple whistleblowers who are eligible for an award, then that 10%-30% amount gets divided between them.
There are multiple factors the SEC considers when determining the amount of an award, including the importance of the information provided; the assistance provided throughout the action; liability; whether there was an unreasonable delay in reporting; and any interference with internal compliance and/or reporting systems.
Although all of these factors have gotten attention in various awards granted by the SEC, the delay in reporting has gotten the most attention. As we mentioned in Part 3, the SEC is a stickler for timeliness, so don’t ever be late as long as you can avoid it. That said, the SEC has been lenient in some instances of delayed reporting, such as when a whistleblower witnessed only one or two instances and was not aware of the full extent of the fraud taking place.
When dividing an award between multiple whistleblowers, the SEC has granted a larger portion to one whistleblower over another if their information caused the investigation to be opened or reopened; or their information was submitted significantly earlier than the other whistleblower’s information. Some whistleblowers have tried to forego their award so it can go to another whistleblower, but the SEC has consistently refused to go along with such a plan. They have made it clear that they are the only ones with the power to allocate their whistleblower awards, and once made, their decision is final and not subject to outside influences, even if those influences include the whistleblowers themselves.
With so much at stake and so many things that can go wrong, it is imperative for whistleblowers to obtain an experienced attorney to help them navigate the process. From submitting information to collecting your award, there are numerous steps you have to take and trying to go through the process on your own is not worth the significant sums of money you could miss out on as a result.
Since the securities fraud fines resulting from SEC investigations have climbed record heights (into the tens of millions) the whistleblower awards that are being paid out in connection with these investigations have climbed accordingly. That means making a mistake because you don’t have the proper representation could potentially cost you millions. If you think you deserve a whistleblower award, or you’ve already filed and you don’t think the preliminary determination was fair, contact a securities fraud attorney today. We have the resources and information to help you navigate the process and estimate a fair award amount based on other factors involved in the case.
The consumer and taxpayer rights law firm of Lubin Austermuehle represents whistleblowers who are pursuing qui tam lawsuits at any level of government or for violations of the securities laws and IRS code, including claims under the Illinois Whistleblower Act, the Chicago whistleblower ordinance, the Dodd-Frank Act and the federal False Claims Act. Based in Chicago and Oak Brook, Ill., our Waukegan and Skokie area qui tam and False Claims Act lawyers stand ready to represent whistleblowers throughout the United States — regardless of whether prosecutors have decided to join the lawsuit. If you know about fraud against a government agency and you’re ready to speak up, you can learn more about whistleblower lawsuits at a free, confidential consultation. To set one up, please contact Lubin Austermuehle online or call 630-333-0333 today.
Lubin Austermuehle also handles partnership disputes and ownership disputes between owners of closely held companies including doctors and physician partnerships. We have handled many cases involving ownership disputes with breach of fiduciary duty and other claims.