Washington, D.C. September 27, 2018. On September 26, 2018, an Estonian newspaper identified Howard Wilkinson as the Danske Bank whistleblower. Mr. Wilkinson is a former Danske Bank employee who confidentially raised concerns over an illegal money laundering scheme in 2013. Last week news reports on the $234 billion scandal revealed the existence of a whistleblower but not the identity.
Mr. Wilkinson is represented by Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP, a firm of whistleblower attorneys in Washington, D.C. Yesterday, the firm sent a letter to law enforcement authorities in Estonia and Denmark demanding they take immediate action to protect Mr. Wilkinson from whistleblower retaliation.
The letter written by Mr. Wilkinson’s attorney, Stephen M. Kohn, raised the concern that Danske Bank was behind the illegal leak of the whistleblower’s identity to an Estonian newspaper. The letter states:
“The article cited to four employees of Danske Bank as sources. Mr. Wilkinson was identified without his knowledge or consent. Much of the information related by the Danske employees was not accurate. We are extremely concerned that Danske Bank, which knew the whistleblower’s identity, has violated his human rights protected under law. We hereby request that your agencies take prompt action to ensure that Mr. Wilkinson is not subjected to further retaliation, violations of his rights to privacy and/or his fundamental human rights.”
The letter then cites to international conventions that require party countries to:
- “provide protection against any unjustified treatment for any person who reports … to the competent authorities any facts concerning [these] offences.” (The UN Convention Against Corruption);
- “to provide effective protection from potential retaliation or intimidation for witnesses in criminal proceedings who give testimony concerning offences covered by this Convention, and as appropriate, for their relatives and other persons close to them,” including “non-disclosure or limitations on the disclosure of information concerning the identity and whereabouts of such persons.” (The UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime); and
- to provide “protection against any unjustified sanction for employees who … suspect corruption and who report in good faith their suspicion to responsible persons or authorities.” The convention also requires party countries to “co-operate effectively … in cases of corruption.” (The Civil Law Convention on Corruption).
Denmark and Estonia have both either ratified or signed all three conventions.
Mr. Kohn issued the following statement:
“The multi-billion-dollar money laundering scheme from Russia to Western banks was first revealed by Mr. Wilkinson five years ago. His identity had remained strictly confidential throughout this time. On September 26, 2018, his identity was illegally revealed and no less than four employees of Danske Bank discussed his employment relationship with the Bank without Mr. Wilkinson’s knowledge or consent. Many of these disclosures to the press were not accurate. This breach of confidentiality sends a chilling effect to all whistleblowers that have the courage and ethics of Mr. Wilkinson. We request the Danish and Estonian authorities to take immediate corrective action and publicly commit to fully protecting Mr. Wilkinson from retaliation.”
Photo credit: Thorfinn Stainforth