Additional activity relating to the resolved bribery case with Swedish telecommunications firm Ericsson and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) occurred last week, with news the whistleblower involved is now an extremely wealthy individual.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) paid out a staggering US$279 million, the “largest ever award” handed out as part of its “cash-for-tips” program.
According to the WSJ, under SEC rules, a whistleblower can receive an award of between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of the fines collected resulting from a tip in SEC civil-enforcement actions from other enforcement agencies, assuming the SEC collects more than US$1 million.
In March, U.S. prosecutors announced that Ericsson has agreed to plead guilty and pay over US$206 million for breaching a 2019 Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) and that it had entered into an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to resolve criminal charges of bribery, falsifying books and other corrupt practices in multiple countries.
The DPA stems from several violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which saw Ericsson employ third-party agents and consultants from 2000 to 2016 to make bribe payments to government officials and manage off-the-books slush funds in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Kuwait.
As part of the DPA, Ericsson paid a criminal penalty of over US$520 million in 2019 and agreed to the imposition of an independent compliance monitor for three years.
The SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower notes that “assistance and information from a whistleblower who knows of possible securities law violations can be among the most powerful weapons in the law enforcement arsenal of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Through their knowledge of the circumstances and individuals involved, whistleblowers can help the Commission identify possible fraud and other violations much earlier than might otherwise have been possible. That allows the Commission to minimize the harm to investors, better preserve the integrity of the United States’ capital markets, and more swiftly hold accountable those responsible for unlawful conduct.”
In the case of the Ericsson whistleblower, neither the company, the SEC, nor the DOJ would comment on the payout.