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SEC Hires Executive for New Whistleblower Program

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seal hangs on the facade of its building in Washington, DC.
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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seal hangs on the facade of its building in Washington, DC.

The SEC has chosen a former Altria and AOL executive to head its new Whistleblower Office, the commission said in a press release Friday.

Sean McKessy will wield the new power given to the SEC under the Dodd-Frank law passed last year.

That law requires the SEC to pay rewards to individuals who voluntarily provide the Commission with original information that leads to successful SEC enforcement actions.

Successful whistleblowerswill be able to claim as much as 30 percent of the amounts recovered in the cases they expose, a potential bounty that has resulted in a flood of new fraud tips to enforcement officers in Washington.

This will be a return to the SEC for McKessy, who was a Senior Counsel in the Division of Enforcement from 1997 to 2000.

More recently, the SEC said, McKessy served as corporate secretary for both Altria and AOL , and as securities counsel for Caterpillar .

Bounty Hunters - See Complete Coverage
Bounty Hunters - See Complete Coverage

In these roles, McKessy developed and supervised internal compliance and reporting programs related to the federal securities laws, served as corporate compliance officer, and coordinated the reporting of potential violations to boards of directors.

“Sean is uniquely positioned to oversee the Commission’s whistleblower program,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

“The Enforcement Division and whistleblowers alike will greatly benefit from Sean’s first-hand experience in bringing enforcement cases, handling whistleblower complaints and understanding the workings of internal corporate compliance programs,” he added.