Top Ten Whistleblower Awards of 2022
2022 was a big year for whistleblowers, who once again recouped billions of government dollars and in turn received hundreds of millions in whistleblower rewards. This year’s top rewards came from various government whistleblower programs, including the qui tam provisions of the federal False Claims Act, various state False Claims Act programs, and the Dodd-Frank SEC Whistleblower Program.
Below is a compilation of the Top Ten publicly-announced whistleblower awards of 2022, which collectively amount to $470 million in payments to whistleblowers. There are a few noteworthy highlights of this year’s top listing.
First, for the second year in a row, this year’s top award is the largest ever paid to an individual whistleblower. The top whistleblower reward of 2021 was a $200 million payout under the CFTC Whistleblower Program. At the time, it was the largest ever to a single whistleblower under any whistleblower reward program, including the False Claims Act. This year’s top award of $266.4 million shatters last year’s record-breaking figure.
Second, financial frauds abound and SEC whistleblowers are netting big awards: 8 of this year’s Top Ten awards were made under the SEC Whistleblower Program. For the third year in a row, the Top Ten whistleblower listing is predominantly SEC awards, and this year’s proportion trended upward from 6 of 10 awards in both 2020 and 2021. The SEC Program is clearly not a passing fad, and we expect to see more massive SEC whistleblower awards in 2023.
Third, this year’s top whistleblower awards show there’s still big money in healthcare fraud in 2022: two of the Top Ten awards (and, notably, the largest and fourth largest awards) went to whistleblowers reporting healthcare fraud under the False Claims Act. As the government continues to spend huge dollars on healthcare, enforcement officials continue to take aim at it, and we expect to see more whistleblowers rewarded for reporting fraud in the healthcare system.
Fourth, not all whistleblower awards are publicly announced, so there may be large whistleblower awards from 2022 that are not on this list. For example, a whistleblower’s award in an FCA case may go unreported if a settlement between the government and a defendant was reached with the issue of the whistleblower’s award left for later determination. Or, in some cases, a whistleblower may receive an award based on an “alternate remedy” recovery by the government. For whistleblowers, it is critical to work with an experienced whistleblower attorney with a track record of success in obtaining the maximum possible reward for clients.
Here’s this year’s Top Ten listing:
- Biogen Whistleblower – $266.4 Million – Former Biogen executive VP Michael Bawduniak received a record-shattering $266.4 million for exposing that the pharmaceutical company paid illegal kickbacks, like sham speaking and consulting fees, to induce physicians to prescribe Biogen’s multiple sclerosis drugs. It is the largest award to a single whistleblower, surpassing the second highest ever award paid to a whistleblower under the CFTC’s whistleblower program. Biogen agreed to pay $900 million to the federal government and 15 states to settle the case.
- Anonymous SEC Whistleblowers – $37 Million – Two undisclosed whistleblowers who reported securities violations under the SEC Whistleblower Program received a combined $37 million award for voluntarily providing key evidence to the government, which significantly contributed to the government’s understanding of the underlying wrong. The whistleblowers also provided ongoing assistance during the government’s investigation. A portion of the award stemmed from a recovery in a related enforcement action brought by another government agency.
- Anonymous SEC Whistleblower – $37 Million – An undisclosed whistleblower who reported securities violations under the SEC Whistleblower Program received $37 million. Other than its size, there were three other important features of the award. First, a portion of the award originated from a recovery in a related action by a different enforcement agency. Second, the whistleblower reported the same information to the target company, which then opened an investigation, and also reported the alleged misconduct to the SEC. In a press release announcing the award, the SEC explained that “the whistleblower receives credit for the investigations being initiated because the whistleblower provided the same information to the SEC within 120 days of providing it internally.” And finally, the whistleblower was an “outsider,” not a company employee.
- Mallinckrodt – $29.6 Million – Three whistleblowers shared in this $260 million recovery over allegations that pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt failed to pay amounts it owed under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, and subsidized copayments to induce Medicare-reimbursed drug purchases in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute. James Landoldt, the whistleblower in the Medicaid rebate case, received a $24.7 million award, or 20% of the $123.6 million federal share of that settlement. Landoldt’s award alone would have been the fourth largest in this year’s listing. Additionally, Charles Strunck and Lisa Pratta, the whistleblowers in the copayment case, were awarded $4.9 million, or 19% of that settlement.
- Anonymous SEC Whistleblower – $20 Million – An undisclosed whistleblower who reported securities violations under the SEC Whistleblower Program received $20 million. Although the SEC had opened an investigation before the whistleblower reported and much of the whistleblower’s information was already known to Enforcement staff, the SEC rewarded the individual for providing helpful new information, meeting with Enforcement Division staff multiple times, and remaining cooperative throughout the investigation.
- Anonymous SEC Whistleblower – $20 Million – An undisclosed whistleblower who reported securities violations under the SEC Whistleblower Program received $20 million. The SEC found that the whistleblower provided significant information and continuing helpful assistance in the Commission’s investigation. In determining the size of the award, the Commission considered that the individual did not have information relating to one part of the enforcement action, and delayed reporting for two years after being involved in the underlying conduct, though only for a short period and at the direction of their supervisor.
- Anonymous SEC Whistleblower – $17 Million – An undisclosed whistleblower who reported securities violations under the SEC Whistleblower Program received $20 million. The whistleblower’s information prompted the SEC to investigate the underlying conduct. Additionally, the Commission shared the whistleblower’s information with another agency, and the whistleblower was rewarded for the success of both the Commission’s covered action and the related action.
- Anonymous SEC Whistleblowers – $16 Million – Two undisclosed whistleblowers who reported securities violations under the SEC Whistleblower Program received a combined $16 million. The bulk of the award, $13 million, went to a whistleblower who reported information that caused the SEC to open its investigation and continued to provide key witnesses and information. The second whistleblower received a smaller award of $3 million for submitting information several years after the earlier whistleblower reported. The Commission found the second whistleblower had unreasonably delayed reporting, but their information gave the SEC a more complete picture of the misconduct, which was useful in settlement negotiations.
- Anonymous SEC Whistleblower – $14 Million – An undisclosed whistleblower who reported securities violations under the SEC Whistleblower Program received $14 million. The whistleblower first exposed the fraud in an online report, then emailed the allegations to an SEC Enforcement Attorney several days later. Shortly after, the SEC opened an investigation based on the whistleblower’s tip. The whistleblower’s award claim was initially denied because he or she failed to submit the tip through proper channels, via the SEC’s Form TCR, until nearly four years after first exposing the fraud. The SEC noted the Form TCR serves various programmatic purposes, allowing the Commission to more efficiently track and process tips, and later evaluate award eligibility. The form also subjects whistleblowers to penalty of perjury. Here, the SEC found it in the public interest and consistent with the protection of investors to waive the TCR requirement.
- Anonymous SEC Whistleblower – $13 Million – An undisclosed whistleblower who reported securities violations under the SEC Whistleblower Program received $13 million. The whistleblower’s information prompted the SEC’s investigation into an ongoing fraud. Additionally, the whistleblower helped to explain the scheme at in-person meetings with investigators, and ultimately allowed the Commission to minimize investor losses.
Annual Whistleblower Insider Top Ten Lists
Every January, Whistleblower Insider looks back at the significant government enforcement actions of the past year. Our Top Ten lists highlight the biggest recoveries and significant enforcement efforts by different government actors in cases of interest to whistleblowers.
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