Whistleblower Directive heading for approval by the European Parliament contains serious deficiencies that impede direct reporting to law enforcement agencies

WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 13, 2018—The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) and leading international bank whistleblower, Mr. Bradley Birkenfeld, have filed a formal response to the European Commission’s proposed Whistleblower Directive. The response highlights serious deficiencies in the proposed Directive that undermine international anti-corruption treaties and place restrictions on the ability of private sector employees to directly report corruption to law enforcement officials.

In a statement issued today by prominent whistleblower rights attorney Stephen M. Kohn, who serves pro bono as the Executive Director of the NWC, Kohn stated:

“The EU must get whistleblower protections right. Whistleblower need effective laws that aid in the fight against corruption, tax evasion and bribery. The Directive needs to incorporate the highly effective qui tam and reward laws that have been remarkably effective in combating fraud.” 

“The Directive contains many good provisions but fails to incorporate the protections guaranteed under international conventions approved by EU members, and places restrictions on the right of private sector employees to report violations of law directly to police. Every citizen must have the unrestricted right to report crimes to law enforcement. This right is the foundation of the rule of law,” Kohn added.

According to Bradley Birkenfeld, the UBS whistleblower who triggered the most successful prosecution of offshore tax law violations in history:

“The essence of whistleblowing is exposing the truth without the fear of retaliation. The EU Directive must ensure that whistleblowers can report violations directly to law enforcement agencies.  Whistleblowers are the key source of information about financial frauds and they must be fully protected and incentivized.  The proposed EU Directive fails to achieve these goals and as a result must be strengthened.  Citizens of the EU deserve justice over corruption.”

In its 16-page letter, the NWC outlines eight amendments and changes necessary to ensure the Directive on Whistleblowing achieves its goal.

“The Directive is a first step toward European-wide whistleblower protections.  We must ensure that this critical first step is effective.  We look forward to working with the European Parliament in improving the current directive,” Kohn added.


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