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SEC awards Merrill Lynch whistleblowers $83M

The SEC is awarding three whistleblowers more than $83 million for exposing "long-running misconduct" at Merrill Lynch.

Two whistleblowers will share a nearly $50 million award, and a third whistleblower will get more than $33 million. The total amount represents the highest whistleblower award given by the SEC since the program started in 2012.

Merrill Lynch had to pay $415 million to settle charges that it misused customer cash to generate profits and failed to safeguard customer assets, putting billions of dollars of customer funds at risk. The whistleblowers, represented by Labaton Sucharow, had tipped the agency that Merrill Lynch executed complex options trades that lacked economic substance and artificially lowered the required deposit of customer cash in the reserve account for many years.