One question many whistleblowers worry about: What if their whistleblowing uncovers their own participation in the wrongdoing? And if it does so, how might that impact their liability and eligibility for an award?
Some culpability is not an automatic bar from a securities whistleblower award.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) understands that some whistleblowers may have participated in the wrongdoing at issue. That may be why they know about it in the first place.
Therefore, you can be eligible for an SEC award for whistleblowing relating to securities violations, even if you are involved in the violation. However, your participation in the wrongdoing will be considered in determining the size of an award. Specifically, the SEC will evaluate:
- Your role in the violations;
- Your education, training, experience, and position of responsibility;
- Your intent and understanding of the act’s wrongdoing, both generally and in relation to others;
- Whether you financially benefited from the violations;
- Whether you have previously perpetrated these violations;
- The egregiousness of your underlying fraud; and
- Whether or not you knowingly interfered with the SEC investigation.
A related criminal conviction does bar you from an award.
If you receive a criminal conviction related to the same actions that would have resulted in an award, that does make you ineligible for that award. But this possibility on its own shouldn’t dissuade you from becoming a whistleblower. A prosecutor may be less likely to charge you if you cooperate with an investigation.
Also, participation in the bad acts does not bar you from suing your employer for subsequent retaliation.
Becoming a whistleblower is complicated in the best of circumstances, but it can be more difficult if you’re involved in the wrongdoing. That’s why it is crucial to have experienced counsel with you—such as securities attorneys at Silver Law Group and the Law Firm of David R. Chase—to understand both your potential legal liabilities and the prospect of an award. For a free, confidential consultation about your information, email us or call us today at (800) 975-4345.