Big HP reward for mystery whistleblower
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The SEC made its first award under the program in August 2012, paying nearly $50,000 to an unnamed whistleblower who alerted the SEC to a multimillion dollar investment fraud that resulted in more than $1 million in court-ordered sanctions.
Given the numbers involved in the HP case, any potential award could be ten times bigger. In a case in 2006, American International Group agreed to pay $800 million to resolve allegations of improper accounting involving transactions with Gen Re.But it's still unclear whether the SEC will pursue the HP case, much less impose any fines.
It has been reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the HP-Autonomy allegations in concert with the SEC, but the probe is still in its initial stage. HP has said it alerted regulators on both sides of the Atlantic, but there is no similar program for whistleblowers in Britain. There has been no award so far for Michael Woodford, the former chief executive of the Japanese camera and medical equipment maker Olympus Corp, who questioned deals that were found to have concealed a $1.7 billion accounting scandal.
In that case, most of the regulatory action over the scandal has been handled by Japanese officials. Woodford said he's not sure if he would apply for an award, even if U.S. regulators imposed fines on Olympus. "I haven't given it much thought," he said.
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