The SEC fined two companies for using severance agreements that required employees to waive their right to an award, undercutting what the director of the agency’s whistleblower office described then as a “key tenet” of the program. In its annual report to Congresson Tuesday, the SEC’s whistleblower office called the crackdown “groundbreaking enforcement activity.”

But critics of the whistleblower program said those settlements marked an agency that had stretched too far in its interpretation of Dodd-Frank’s protections for tipsters. Now, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office and shape the SEC, lawyers in the whistleblower field are watching to see whether the commission continues to take a stand against restrictive severance agreements or turns down the heat.

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