15 U.S.C. § 78u-6 - U.S. Code - Unannotated Title 15. Commerce and Trade § 78u-6. Securities whistleblower incentives and protection




Definitions

In this section the following definitions shall apply:

Covered judicial or administrative action

The term “covered judicial or administrative action” means any judicial or administrative action brought by the Commission under the securities laws that results in monetary sanctions exceeding $1,000,000.

Fund

The term “Fund” means the Securities and Exchange Commission Investor Protection Fund.

Original information

The term “original information” means information that--

 is derived from the independent knowledge or analysis of a whistleblower;

 is not known to the Commission from any other source, unless the whistleblower is the original source of the information;  and

 is not exclusively derived from an allegation made in a judicial or administrative hearing, in a governmental report, hearing, audit, or investigation, or from the news media, unless the whistleblower is a source of the information.

Monetary sanctions

The term “monetary sanctions”, when used with respect to any judicial or administrative action, means--

 any monies, including penalties, disgorgement, and interest, ordered to be paid;  and

 any monies deposited into a disgorgement fund or other fund pursuant to section 308(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (15 U.S.C. 7246(b)), as a result of such action or any settlement of such action.

Related action

The term “related action”, when used with respect to any judicial or administrative action brought by the Commission under the securities laws, means any judicial or administrative action brought by an entity described in subclauses (I) through (IV) of subsection (h)(2)(D)(i) that is based upon the original information provided by a whistleblower pursuant to subsection (a) that led to the successful enforcement of the Commission action.

Whistleblower

The term “whistleblower” means any individual who provides, or 2 or more individuals acting jointly who provide, information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the Commission, in a manner established, by rule or regulation, by the Commission.

Awards

In general

In any covered judicial or administrative action, or related action, the Commission, under regulations prescribed by the Commission and subject to subsection (c), shall pay an award or awards to 1 or more whistleblowers who voluntarily provided original information to the Commission that led to the successful enforcement of the covered judicial or administrative action, or related action, in an aggregate amount equal to--

 not less than 10 percent, in total, of what has been collected of the monetary sanctions imposed in the action or related actions;  and

 not more than 30 percent, in total, of what has been collected of the monetary sanctions imposed in the action or related actions.

Payment of awards

Any amount paid under paragraph (1) shall be paid from the Fund.

Determination of amount of award;  denial of award

Determination of amount of award

Discretion

The determination of the amount of an award made under subsection (b) shall be in the discretion of the Commission.

Criteria

In determining the amount of an award made under subsection (b), the Commission--

 shall take into consideration--

 the significance of the information provided by the whistleblower to the success of the covered judicial or administrative action;

 the degree of assistance provided by the whistleblower and any legal representative of the whistleblower in a covered judicial or administrative action;

 the programmatic interest of the Commission in deterring violations of the securities laws by making awards to whistleblowers who provide information that lead to the successful enforcement of such laws;  and

 such additional relevant factors as the Commission may establish by rule or regulation;  and

 shall not take into consideration the balance of the Fund.

Denial of award

No award under subsection (b) shall be made--

 to any whistleblower who is, or was at the time the whistleblower acquired the original information submitted to the commission, a member, officer, or employee of--

 an appropriate regulatory agency;

 the Department of Justice;

 a self-regulatory organization;

 the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board;  or

 a law enforcement organization;

 to any whistleblower who is convicted of a criminal violation related to the judicial or administrative action for which the whistleblower otherwise could receive an award under this section;

 to any whistleblower who gains the information through the performance of an audit of financial statements required under the securities laws and for whom such submission would be contrary to the requirements of section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78j-1);  or

 to any whistleblower who fails to submit information to the Commission in such form as the Commission may, by rule, require.

Representation

Permitted representation

Any whistleblower who makes a claim for an award under subsection (b) may be represented by counsel.

Required representation

In general

Any whistleblower who anonymously makes a claim for an award under subsection (b) shall be represented by counsel if the whistleblower anonymously submits the information upon which the claim is based.

Disclosure of identity

Prior to the payment of an award, a whistleblower shall disclose the identity of the whistleblower and provide such other information as the Commission may require, directly or through counsel for the whistleblower.

No contract necessary

No contract with the Commission is necessary for any whistleblower to receive an award under subsection (b), unless otherwise required by the Commission by rule or regulation.

Appeals

Any determination made under this section, including whether, to whom, or in what amount to make awards, shall be in the discretion of the Commission.  Any such determination, except the determination of the amount of an award if the award was made in accordance with subsection (b), may be appealed to the appropriate court of appeals of the United States not more than 30 days after the determination is issued by the Commission.  The court shall review the determination made by the Commission in accordance with section 706 of Title 5.

Investor Protection Fund

Fund established

There is established in the Treasury of the United States a fund to be known as the “Securities and Exchange Commission Investor Protection Fund”.

Use of Fund

The Fund shall be available to the Commission, without further appropriation or fiscal year limitation, for--

 paying awards to whistleblowers as provided in subsection (b);  and

 funding the activities of the Inspector General of the Commission under section 4(i).

Deposits and credits

In general

There shall be deposited into or credited to the Fund an amount equal to--

 any monetary sanction collected by the Commission in any judicial or administrative action brought by the Commission under the securities laws that is not added to a disgorgement fund or other fund under section 308 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (15 U.S.C. 7246) or otherwise distributed to victims of a violation of the securities laws, or the rules and regulations thereunder, underlying such action, unless the balance of the Fund at the time the monetary sanction is collected exceeds $300,000,000;

 any monetary sanction added to a disgorgement fund or other fund under section 308 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (15 U.S.C. 7246) that is not distributed to the victims for whom the Fund was established, unless the balance of the disgorgement fund at the time the determination is made not to distribute the monetary sanction to such victims exceeds $200,000,000;  and

 all income from investments made under paragraph (4).

Additional amounts

If the amounts deposited into or credited to the Fund under subparagraph (A) are not sufficient to satisfy an award made under subsection (b), there shall be deposited into or credited to the Fund an amount equal to the unsatisfied portion of the award from any monetary sanction collected by the Commission in the covered judicial or administrative action on which the award is based.

Investments

Amounts in Fund may be invested

The Commission may request the Secretary of the Treasury to invest the portion of the Fund that is not, in the discretion of the Commission, required to meet the current needs of the Fund.

Eligible investments

Investments shall be made by the Secretary of the Treasury in obligations of the United States or obligations that are guaranteed as to principal and interest by the United States, with maturities suitable to the needs of the Fund as determined by the Commission on the record.

Interest and proceeds credited

The interest on, and the proceeds from the sale or redemption of, any obligations held in the Fund shall be credited to the Fund.

Reports to Congress

Not later than October 30 of each fiscal year beginning after July 21, 2010, the Commission shall submit to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate, and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives a report on--

 the whistleblower award program, established under this section, including--

 a description of the number of awards granted;  and

 the types of cases in which awards were granted during the preceding fiscal year;

 the balance of the Fund at the beginning of the preceding fiscal year;

 the amounts deposited into or credited to the Fund during the preceding fiscal year;

 the amount of earnings on investments made under paragraph (4) during the preceding fiscal year;

 the amount paid from the Fund during the preceding fiscal year to whistleblowers pursuant to subsection (b);

 the balance of the Fund at the end of the preceding fiscal year;  and

 a complete set of audited financial statements, including--

 a balance sheet;

 income statement;  and

 cash flow analysis.

Protection of whistleblowers

Prohibition against retaliation

In general

No employer may discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, directly or indirectly, or in any other manner discriminate against, a whistleblower in the terms and conditions of employment because of any lawful act done by the whistleblower--

 in providing information to the Commission in accordance with this section;

 in initiating, testifying in, or assisting in any investigation or judicial or administrative action of the Commission based upon or related to such information;  or

 in making disclosures that are required or protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (15 U.S.C. 7201 et seq.), this chapter, including section 78j-1(m) of this title, section 1513(e) of Title 18, and any other law, rule, or regulation subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission.

Enforcement

Cause of action

An individual who alleges discharge or other discrimination in violation of subparagraph (A) may bring an action under this subsection in the appropriate district court of the United States for the relief provided in subparagraph (C).

Subpoenas

A subpoena requiring the attendance of a witness at a trial or hearing conducted under this section may be served at any place in the United States.

Statute of limitations

In general

An action under this subsection may not be brought--

 more than 6 years after the date on which the violation of subparagraph (A) occurred;  or

 more than 3 years after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the employee alleging a violation of subparagraph (A).

Required action within 10 years

Notwithstanding subclause (I), an action under this subsection may not in any circumstance be brought more than 10 years after the date on which the violation occurs.

Relief

Relief for an individual prevailing in an action brought under subparagraph (B) shall include--

 reinstatement with the same seniority status that the individual would have had, but for the discrimination;

 2 times the amount of back pay otherwise owed to the individual, with interest;  and

 compensation for litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorneys' fees.

Confidentiality

In general

Except as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C), the Commission and any officer or employee of the Commission shall not disclose any information, including information provided by a whistleblower to the Commission, which could reasonably be expected to reveal the identity of a whistleblower, except in accordance with the provisions of section 552a of Title 5, unless and until required to be disclosed to a defendant or respondent in connection with a public proceeding instituted by the Commission or any entity described in subparagraph (C).  For purposes of section 552 of Title 5, this paragraph shall be considered a statute described in subsection (b)(3)(B) of such section.

Exempted statute

For purposes of section 552 of Title 5, this paragraph shall be considered a statute described in subsection (b)(3)(B) of such section 552.

Rule of construction

Nothing in this section is intended to limit, or shall be construed to limit, the ability of the Attorney General to present such evidence to a grand jury or to share such evidence with potential witnesses or defendants in the course of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Availability to Government agencies

In general

Without the loss of its status as confidential in the hands of the Commission, all information referred to in subparagraph (A) may, in the discretion of the Commission, when determined by the Commission to be necessary to accomplish the purposes of this chapter and to protect investors, be made available to--

 the Attorney General of the United States;

 an appropriate regulatory authority;

 a self-regulatory organization;

 a State attorney general in connection with any criminal investigation;

 any appropriate State regulatory authority;

 the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board;

 a foreign securities authority;  and

 a foreign law enforcement authority.

Confidentiality

In general

Each of the entities described in subclauses (I) through (VI) of clause (i) shall maintain such information as confidential in accordance with the requirements established under subparagraph (A).

Foreign authorities

Each of the entities described in subclauses (VII) and (VIII) of clause (i) shall maintain such information in accordance with such assurances of confidentiality as the Commission determines appropriate.

Rights retained

Nothing in this section shall be deemed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of any whistleblower under any Federal or State law, or under any collective bargaining agreement.

Provision of false information

A whistleblower shall not be entitled to an award under this section if the whistleblower--

 knowingly and willfully makes any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation;  or

 uses any false writing or document knowing the writing or document contains any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry.

Rulemaking authority

The Commission shall have the authority to issue such rules and regulations as may be necessary or appropriate to implement the provisions of this section consistent with the purposes of this section.


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