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SEC announces $30M payout in largest whistleblower award

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(Reuters) — An anonymous tipster living abroad will receive $30 million in the largest whistleblower award ever doled out by U.S. securities regulators as part of a program that aims to encourage insiders to report wrongdoing.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday that the whistleblower provided crucial information that helped investigators uncover a “difficult to detect” ongoing fraud.

“This record-breaking award sends a strong message about our commitment to whistleblowers and the value they bring to law enforcement,” SEC Enforcement Director Andrew Ceresney said.

The SEC won new powers in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law to entice whistleblowers with monetary awards. Prior to the new law, the SEC was only able to reward people for helping on insider-trading cases.

The new program lets the SEC pay a whistleblower who provides tips and original information that leads to an enforcement action with sanctions that exceed $1 million.

The SEC can award a whistleblower anywhere between 10% and 30% of the money the agency collects.

By law, the SEC is not allowed to reveal the identity of whistleblowers, and so as a result it does not disclose which case a whistleblower helped to crack.

Settlements with the SEC large enough to justify a $30 million award are uncommon.

Monday's announcement marks the fourth time the SEC has agreed to award a whistleblower living abroad — a fact that the agency said demonstrates the “international breadth” of the program.

Since the inception of the program in fiscal year 2012, the SEC has awarded more than a dozen whistleblowers. Monday's $30 million award is more than double the previous record of $14 million, awarded to a whistleblower in 2013.