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SEC Pays $50,000 in First-Ever Whistleblower Award

Congratulations, Sean McKessy: You have just given heartburn to compliance officers everywhere, for handing out the maximum award allowed under the law in the SEC’s new whistleblower program.

For those of you too busy to look up from proofreading your 10-Qs lately, the SEC today doled out its first-ever whistleblower award. Surprising? No; McKessy, director of the horribly named “SEC Office of the Whistleblower,” has been hinting for months that awards would start coming soon. The ominous news for compliance officers is that the SEC is allowed to give 10 to 30 percent of any proceeds it collects that top $1 million or more, and in its announcement today the SEC said that $50,000 is the full 30 percent.

Doing the math, then, that means the total penalty was $1.67 million. Against whom? The SEC didn’t say. Who was the whistleblower, and what details did he or she spill? The SEC didn’t say that either, which is unfortunate, since compliance officers would love to know what sort of disclosure rates a 30 percent bounty rather than 10 percent.