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Allison Lee Allison Lee testifies before the Senate Banking Committee during her confirmation hearing to be a Member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / ALM

Whistleblower advocates voiced alarm Wednesday over the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asserting broad discretion to lower awards for tipsters who assist with investigations, saying the agency’s move threatens to undermine a program that has been hailed as a “game changer” for the agency’s enforcement efforts.

At a public meeting Wednesday, the SEC voted 3-2 to adopt changes to the bounty program that the commission’s chairman, Jay Clayton, said would expedite the process of reviewing award applications and deliver more money to tipsters. The whistleblower program, created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, allows whistleblowers to receive between 10 and 30 percent of monetary sanctions collected from cases in which they assist the SEC.

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