SEC Awards Panasonic Whistleblower $28M

A whistleblower who assisted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and another federal agency bring “significant enforcement actions” against a Panasonic subsidiary will receive more than $28 million as a reward for the help.

PanasonicPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

The SEC announced the multimillion-dollar award on Wednesday, but did not identify the whistleblower, the entities named in the actions, or the nature of the alleged violations. Established under the Dodd Frank Act, the SEC Whistleblower Program provides for claimants to file for awards with full anonymity and confidentiality.

But also on Wednesday, lawyers who said they represent the whistleblower, such as Brian Levin of Levin Law PA claimed that the sizable award went to an individual whose insider information aided the SEC and the Justice Department in launching investigations of Panasonic Avionics Corp., a subsidiary of Panasonic Corp. The probes led to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act allegations and a subsequent $280 million settlement deal.

In a statement, Emily Pasquinelli, acting chief of the SEC’s whistleblower office stated, “The SEC has awarded more than $900 million over the life of the program, including almost $85 million to nine individuals in this month alone, which reflects the vitality and continued success of the SEC’s whistleblower program.”

These latest payments follow a fiscal year in which the agency paid out $175 million to 39 individual whistleblowers, which SEC officials characterized as “a record-setting year for the whistleblower program.”

The office quickly broke its record this year when it confirmed in February that it had already paid out almost $190 million to whistleblowers. The SEC stated at the time that it was also likely to give awards to more individuals in 2021 than received awards during the previous fiscal year.

These awards also come on the heels of the departure of Jane Norberg, the SEC official who had headed up the office of the whistleblower since 2016. When she left in April, the SEC noted that Norberg had spearheaded efforts to streamline the regulator’s awards review process and credited her with its two record-breaking fiscal years.

The agency stated that when a whistleblower’s information leads to monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million, awards can range between 10% and 30% of the money the SEC secures from the enforcement action.

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