17 CFR § 240.21F-6 - Criteria for determining amount of award.

§ 240.21F-6 Criteria for determining amount of award.

In exercising its discretion to determine the appropriate award, the Commission may consider the following factors (and only the following factors) in relation to the facts and circumstances of each case in setting the dollar or percentage amount of the award. In the event that awards are determined for multiple whistleblowers in connection an action, these factors will be used to determine the relative allocation of awards among the whistleblowers.

(a) Factors that may increase the amount of a whistleblower's award. In determining whether to increase the amount of an award, the Commission will consider the following factors, which are not listed in order of importance.

(1) Significance of the information provided by the whistleblower. The Commission will assess the significance of the information provided by a whistleblower to the success of the Commission action or related action. In considering this factor, the Commission may take into account, among other things:

(i) The nature of the information provided by the whistleblower and how it related to the successful enforcement action, including whether the reliability and completeness of the information provided to the Commission by the whistleblower resulted in the conservation of Commission resources;

(ii) The degree to which the information provided by the whistleblower supported one or more successful claims brought in the Commission or related action.

(2) Assistance provided by the whistleblower. The Commission will assess the degree of assistance provided by the whistleblower and any legal representative of the whistleblower in the Commission action or related action. In considering this factor, the Commission may take into account, among other things:

(i) Whether the whistleblower provided ongoing, extensive, and timely cooperation and assistance by, for example, helping to explain complex transactions, interpreting key evidence, or identifying new and productive lines of inquiry;

(ii) The timeliness of the whistleblower's initial report to the Commission or to an internal compliance or reporting system of business organizations committing, or impacted by, the securities violations, where appropriate;

(iii) The resources conserved as a result of the whistleblower's assistance;

(iv) Whether the whistleblower appropriately encouraged or authorized others to assist the staff of the Commission who might otherwise not have participated in the investigation or related action;

(v) The efforts undertaken by the whistleblower to remediate the harm caused by the violations, including assisting the authorities in the recovery of the fruits and instrumentalities of the violations; and

(vi) Any unique hardships experienced by the whistleblower as a result of his or her reporting and assisting in the enforcement action.

(3) Law enforcement interest. The Commission will assess its programmatic interest in deterring violations of the securities laws by making awards to whistleblowers who provide information that leads to the successful enforcement of such laws. In considering this factor, the Commission may take into account, among other things:

(i) The degree to which an award enhances the Commission's ability to enforce the Federal securities laws and protect investors; and

(ii) The degree to which an award encourages the submission of high quality information from whistleblowers by appropriately rewarding whistleblowers' submission of significant information and assistance, even in cases where the monetary sanctions available for collection are limited or potential monetary sanctions were reduced or eliminated by the Commission because an entity self-reported a securities violation following the whistleblower's related internal disclosure, report, or submission.

(iii) Whether the subject matter of the action is a Commission priority, whether the reported misconduct involves regulated entities or fiduciaries, whether the whistleblower exposed an industry-wide practice, the type and severity of the securities violations, the age and duration of misconduct, the number of violations, and the isolated, repetitive, or ongoing nature of the violations; and

(iv) The dangers to investors or others presented by the underlying violations involved in the enforcement action, including the amount of harm or potential harm caused by the underlying violations, the type of harm resulting from or threatened by the underlying violations, and the number of individuals or entities harmed.

(4) Participation in internal compliance systems. The Commission will assess whether, and the extent to which, the whistleblower and any legal representative of the whistleblower participated in internal compliance systems. In considering this factor, the Commission may take into account, among other things:

(i) Whether, and the extent to which, a whistleblower reported the possible securities violations through internal whistleblower, legal or compliance procedures before, or at the same time as, reporting them to the Commission; and

(ii) Whether, and the extent to which, a whistleblower assisted any internal investigation or inquiry concerning the reported securities violations.

(b) Factors that may decrease the amount of a whistleblower's award. In determining whether to decrease the amount of an award, the Commission will consider the following factors, which are not listed in order of importance.

(1) Culpability. The Commission will assess the culpability or involvement of the whistleblower in matters associated with the Commission's action or related actions. In considering this factor, the Commission may take into account, among other things:

(i) The whistleblower's role in the securities violations;

(ii) The whistleblower's education, training, experience, and position of responsibility at the time the violations occurred;

(iii) Whether the whistleblower acted with scienter, both generally and in relation to others who participated in the violations;

(iv) Whether the whistleblower financially benefitted from the violations;

(v) Whether the whistleblower is a recidivist;

(vi) The egregiousness of the underlying fraud committed by the whistleblower; and

(vii) Whether the whistleblower knowingly interfered with the Commission's investigation of the violations or related enforcement actions.

(2) Unreasonable reporting delay. The Commission will assess whether the whistleblower unreasonably delayed reporting the securities violations. In considering this factor, the Commission may take into account, among other things:

(i) Whether the whistleblower was aware of the relevant facts but failed to take reasonable steps to report or prevent the violations from occurring or continuing;

(ii) Whether the whistleblower was aware of the relevant facts but only reported them after learning about a related inquiry, investigation, or enforcement action; and

(iii) Whether there was a legitimate reason for the whistleblower to delay reporting the violations.

(3) Interference with internal compliance and reporting systems. The Commission will assess, in cases where the whistleblower interacted with his or her entity's internal compliance or reporting system, whether the whistleblower undermined the integrity of such system. In considering this factor, the Commission will take into account whether there is evidence provided to the Commission that the whistleblower knowingly:

(i) Interfered with an entity's established legal, compliance, or audit procedures to prevent or delay detection of the reported securities violation;

(ii) Made any material false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations that hindered an entity's efforts to detect, investigate, or remediate the reported securities violations; and

(iii) Provided any false writing or document knowing the writing or document contained any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or entries that hindered an entity's efforts to detect, investigate, or remediate the reported securities violations.

(c) Additional considerations in connection with certain awards of $5 million or less.

(1) This subpart applies when the Commission is considering any meritorious award application where:

(i) The statutory maximum award of 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected in any covered and related action(s), in the aggregate, is $5 million or less, and the Commission determines that it does not reasonably anticipate that future collections would cause the statutory maximum award to be paid to any whistleblower to exceed $5 million in the aggregate;

(ii) None of the negative award factors specified in paragraphs §§ 240.21F-6(b)(1) or 240.21F-6(b)(3) were found present with respect to the claimant's award application, and the award claim does not trigger § 240.21F-16 (concerning awards to whistleblowers who engage in culpable conduct);

(iii) The claimant did not engage in unreasonable reporting delay under § 240.21F-(6)(b)(2) (although the Commission, in its sole discretion, may in certain limited circumstances determine to waive this criterion if the claimant can demonstrate that doing so based on the facts and circumstances of the matter is consistent with the public interest, the promotion of investor protection, and the objectives of the whistleblower program); and

(iv) The Commission does not otherwise determine in its sole discretion that application of the enhancement afforded by this subpart would be inappropriate because either:

(A) The whistleblower's assistance in the covered action or related action (as assessed under § 240.21F-6(a) of this section) was, under the relevant facts and circumstances, limited; or

(B) Providing the enhancement would be inconsistent with the public interest, the promotion of investor protection, or the objectives of the whistleblower program.

(2) If the Commission determines that the criteria in § 240.21F-6(c)(1) are satisfied, the resulting payout to a claimant for the original information that the claimant provided that led to one or more successful covered or related action(s), collectively, will be the maximum allowed under the statute.

(3) Notwithstanding § 240.21F-6(c)(2), if two or more claimants qualify for an award in connection with any covered action or related action and at least one of those claimant's award applications qualifies under § 240.21F-6(c)(1), the aggregate amount awarded to all meritorious claimants will be the statutory maximum. In allocating that amount among the meritorious claimants, the Commission will consider whether an individual claimant's award application satisfies §§ 240.21F-6(c)(1)(ii) and 240.21F-6(c)(1)(iii).

[76 FR 34363, June 13, 2011, as amended at 85 FR 70943, Nov. 5, 2020]

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