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Whistleblower tips to SEC grew in fiscal 2015

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The number of whistleblower tips and complaints to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Office of the Whistleblower increased in fiscal year 2015, but at a lower rate than in the previous year.

The number of complaints filed in fiscal year 2015, which ended Sept. 30, increased 8.4%, to 3,923 from 3,620. This compares with the 11.8% increase posted in fiscal year 2014, according to the SEC’s annual report to Congress, issued Monday, on the whistleblower program, which was established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

In fiscal year 2015, the SEC paid more than $37 million out of the Investor Protection Fund to eight whistleblowers. More than $30 million of this, however, reflects an award issued near the end of fiscal year 2014, which was paid at the beginning of fiscal year 2015, to a whistleblower who provided key original information that led to a successful enforcement action.

Other awards issued during the year include the more than $3 million paid to a company outsider who helped uncover a complex fraud.

The most common complaint categories reported by whistleblowers were corporate disclosures and financials, 17.5%; offering fraud, 15.6%; and manipulation, 12.3%.

“The types of securities violations reported by whistleblowers have remained generally consistent over the last four years,” according to the report.

California, Florida, New Jersey, New York and Texas yielded the highest number of whistleblower tips in fiscal year 2015 in the United States. Tips were received from 61 foreign countries, with the highest number received from individuals in Australia, Canada, India, the People’s Republic of China and the United Kingdom, according to the report.