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As SEC Whistleblower Chief Norberg Moves On, the Agency Reinforces Its Warm Embrace of Whistleblowers

Posted  April 16, 2021

With the SEC’s recent announcement that Jane Norberg will be stepping down this month as the head of the SEC Whistleblower Office, the agency is losing one of its greatest whistleblower champions.  As the agency so prominently reported, the Whistleblower Program under Norberg’s tenure made roughly $650 million in whistleblower awards and reached a host of other milestones.  This included nine of the Top-10 awards in the program’s history.  As Commissioner Allison Herren Lee so aptly lamented regarding Norberg’s imminent departure, “She will be sorely missed.”

But even without Ms. Norberg’s continued stewardship, the SEC has made it very clear its Whistleblower Program will carry on strong.  It took only a single day after announcing Ms. Norberg’s impending exit for the SEC to report yet another whistleblower award.  And less than a week later, the agency was at it again, announcing a $50 million award, the SEC’s second-largest award ever, and trumpeting “the tremendous value of whistleblowers to our enforcement program.”

With this latest award, the SEC has now paid out more than $800 million to whistleblowers since making its first award in 2012.  And every indication is there will be no slowing down for the agency and its work with (and appreciation of) whistleblowers.  Perhaps in an effort to remove any doubts as to the agency’s post-Norberg direction, earlier this week the SEC pushed out a prominent promotion of the Whistleblower Program.  It includes fancy flow charts of how the whistleblower process works and a colorful map with a state-by-state breakdown of where the SEC’s whistleblower tips have originated.

The SEC posting also includes a listing of the Top-10 whistleblower awards (not counting the most recent one) with direct links to the SEC press releases announcing them and the surrounding details.  All highlighting the critical role of the whistleblower.  Notably, five of these top awards were within the past year, including the SEC’s $114 million blockbuster award this past October and another $50 million award last June.  They were all part of what was by all accounts a record-setting year for the program by virtually any metric used, including the amount of awards, the number of awards, and the number of whistleblower tips submitted.

The bottom line for would-be whistleblowers and the companies that employ them is that even without Ms. Norberg at the helm, the SEC Whistleblower Program will remain as strong as ever.  As will the SEC’s commitment to whistleblowers as a vital part of the agency’s enforcement regime.  Indeed, as the SEC continues to highlight on its dedicated whistleblower home page: whistleblowers “can be among the most powerful weapons in the [agency’s] law enforcement arsenal.”  It is a sentiment that no doubt runs deep throughout the agency.

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Tagged in: Financial and Investment Fraud, SEC Whistleblower Reward Program, Securities Fraud, Whistleblower Rewards,