Whistleblower awarded $17 million by Securities and Exchange Commission

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission awarded $17 million to a former company employee who gave information that helped advance an agency investigation.

“The information and assistance provided by this whistleblower enabled our enforcement staff to conserve time and resources and gather strong evidence supporting our case,” SEC enforcement chief Andrew Ceresney said in a statement Thursday announcing the award, the second-biggest ever in the agency’s five-year-old whistleblower program.

Whistleblowers are eligible for an award if they voluntarily provide the SEC with unique information that leads to a successful enforcement action. The awards can range from 10 to 30 percent of the money collected on sanctions beyond $1 million.

By law, the SEC doesn’t reveal the identity of the whistleblowers. The agency issued a $30 million award — the largest ever — in September 2014. So far this month, the regulator has announced awards totaling more than $26 million to five individuals. The program, which started in 2011, has awarded more than $85 million to 32 whistleblowers, the SEC said.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.