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Sean McKessy, Chief of Whistleblower Office, to Leave SEC


Washington D.C., July 8, 2016 —

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Sean McKessy, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, is planning to leave the agency later this month.

Mr. McKessy became the first head of SEC’s whistleblower program in February 2011 and helped establish the whistleblower office that assesses and reviews all whistleblower tips received by the agency, evaluates whistleblower award claims, and makes recommendations to the Commission on whether claimants have satisfied eligibility requirements to receive an award.

“The SEC’s whistleblower program has had a transformative impact on the agency, and Sean’s service as the first head of the Whistleblower Office has contributed greatly to the program’s success,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.  “Sean has been a staunch advocate for whistleblowers, a relentless promoter of the program, and an invaluable advisor on these issues.”

Mr. McKessy said, “It has been an honor and pleasure to serve as the first Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower.  Working with the extraordinarily talented and dedicated staff of the Whistleblower Office and the Enforcement Division in standing up a groundbreaking and exemplary Whistleblower Office has been the highlight of my professional career.”

During Mr. McKessy’s tenure as Chief of the Office of the Whistleblower:

  • The office has reviewed more than 14,000 whistleblower tips from individuals in every state in the country as well as the District of Columbia and 95 foreign countries.
  • More than $85 million has been awarded to 32 whistleblowers.  Because of the information and assistance provided by these whistleblowers, the SEC was able to bring successful enforcement actions where more than $504 million was ordered in sanctions, including more than $346 million in disgorgement and interest for harmed investors.   More than $453 million has been collected in connection with these actions as well as successful related actions. 
  • The SEC also has brought actions to ensure that employees feel secure in reporting wrongdoing to the SEC, without fear of reprisal from their employers, including its first enforcement actions under the anti-retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act and against a company for including language in confidentiality agreements that impeded whistleblowers from reporting to the SEC.

Mr. McKessy also worked at the SEC from 1997 to 2000, serving as a Senior Counsel in the Enforcement Division. 

Mr. McKessy has served as corporate secretary for Altria Group Inc. and AOL Inc., and as securities counsel for Caterpillar Inc.  In these roles, Mr. 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. 

Mr. McKessy received the SEC’s Law and Policy Award in 2011 for his involvement with the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The Whistleblower Office’s Deputy Chief Jane Norberg will serve as Acting Chief following Mr. McKessy’s departure.


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