Whistleblowers rewarded US $570k

Two whistleblowers in the US have been rewarded for their efforts with the Securities and Exchange Commission awarding them a combined US $570,000.

The first whistleblower received US $478,000 and the second US $94,000.

The SEC did not reveal which cases the whistleblowers helped to crack, but said the substantially higher amount for one whistleblower reflects the importance of providing information earlier in the investigation.

Just a few days earlier, another whistleblower was awarded US $1.6 million for information that tipped the SEC off to a significant securities law violation.

The SEC has awarded approximately US $396 million to 76 individuals for whistleblowing since issuing its first award in 2012.

All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by US congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators.

Separately, the SEC charged an unregistered penny stock dealer with failing to register as a securities dealer.

Justin Keener of JMJ Financial allegedly bought and sold billions of newly issued penny stocks and generated millions in profits.

The SEC's complaint alleges that between 2015 and 2018, Keener engaged in the business of purchasing convertible notes from penny stock issuers, converting the notes into shares of stock at a large discount from the market price, and selling those newly issued shares into the market at a significant profit.

Through this, Keener allegedly generated more than US $21.5 million in profits by selling more than 17.5 billion shares of newly issued penny stocks into the market.

That profit mostly came from the spread between Keener's discounted acquisition cost for the penny stocks and the prevailing market price.

It is not clear how Keener sold such an enormous quantity of penny stocks, but the SEC complaint alleges that at one point Keener employed as many as 20 people.

Selling penny stocks is the same activity that resulted in Jordan Belfort being investigated by the SEC.

Though in Belfort's case, he was running a scam through a high-pressure call centre.

Read more: SECJustin KeenerJordan Belfort
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