SEC Rewards Help Bring Forward the Whistleblowers

Financial Times
September 18, 2016

Jordan A. Thomas discusses how recent successful whistleblower tips allow the SEC to give more awards at a faster pace

Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch brokerage unit will pay $415 million and admit to wrongdoing to settle charges that it misused customer cash in the largest customer protection settlement in the United States in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) history. A bank executive with the details of a complex trading scheme that inflated the bank’s profits informed Jordan Thomas, a partner at Labaton Sucharow who focuses on whistleblower cases. After meeting with three bank executives troubled by the trades, Thomas alerted U.S. regulators.

The SEC has not yet formally determined whether his clients deserve credit, but under a five-year-old program, the tipsters stand to receive a multimillion dollar reward. The SEC already has paid out $107 million to 33 individuals for help in bringing or pursuing cases.

“They’re picking up the pace. Right now, we’re looking at $100 million worth of awards as a major milestone and it is. But in coming years, the monetary awards paid out in one year will be $100 million,” said Thomas. 

A whistleblower can face many risks, and frequently request for their information to be concealed. The article notes that Thomas has gone the extra mile to make sure his clients’ identities are protected and has even met with them at midday in churches.