WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Seven tips a day are coming in from the whistleblower program, designed by the Securities and Exchange Commission to bring significant fraud cases.
Of these, two to three are “high quality,’’ said Thomas Sporkin, director of the market surveillance unit of the SEC. These often come from competitors or high-level industry executives or managers that are knowledgeable about how securities markets work.
The program was established last August, offering rewards to individuals when the prosecution or case that ensues results in penalties of at least $1 million. In such instances, the individual nets 10% to 30%.
The seven tips are a small slice of the 200 tips it takes in a day, however. Tips overall lead to about half of the investigations that come out of his office, Sporkin said at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority annual conference.
The SEC, which has doubled its number of insider trading cases brought annually in its recent crackdown, will double that number again, Sporkin said. Its high-profile cases have, for instance, extended to a former member of the board of Goldman Sachs Group.
He also said the SEC will make a concentrated effort to eliminate microcap complaints, arising from pump and dump schemes involving small stocks and spam campaigns; and, will take a close look at crowdfunding, which could be a new form of capital raising that, unsupervised, could readily be abused.
With crowdfunding, a company tries to raise equity through the Internet, in small amounts. Broker-dealers are legally entitled to handle crowdfunding efforts, Sporkin said. But the financial condition of the venture and representations have to be verified and an investor likely still would have to be qualified to participate.
A New York Times profile of Sporkin and the SEC’s enforcement division can be found here.
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