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SEC’s secret weapon: Canadian whistleblowers

Whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld was awarded $104-million by U.S. tax authorities in a major tax fraud case against Swiss bank UBS that widened a government crackdown on Americans avoiding taxes in Switzerland.

TIM SHAFFER/REUTERS

More than one in ten tip-offs about corporate wrongdoing received by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) came from overseas, with British whistle blowers topping the list, followed by Canadians, said a global investigations firm on Thursday.

Nearly one in four of the 324 overseas tip-offs came from Britain with Canada second and India third, according to Kroll's analysis of the annual report from the U.S. body responsible for regulating the securities market.

Under new U.S. regulation introduced in 2010, the SEC starting paying whistleblowers, both at home and abroad, for coming forward with information that results in successful prosecutions.

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"The bounties offered to whistleblowers by the SEC are likely to have huge repercussions for companies, particularly international ones, as they mean whistleblowers based anywhere in the world are more likely to go to the regulator rather than their company," said Kroll managing director, Benedict Hamilton.

Britain's 74 tip-offs were well above second-placed Canada which had 46, according to data from the fiscal year 2012.

Regulators in Britain do not offer similar rewards at the moment but Kroll said Britain's Parliamentary commission on banking standards has asked the Financial Services Authority regulator to consider the move.

Data released last month showed the number of whistleblowing cases reported to the FSA were up 276 per cent in four years.

The SEC received nearly 1,000 calls to its helpline from June 2007 to May 2008 compared to 3,733 in the same 2011 to 2012 period.

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