Several US whistleblower laws have international applications that have been used to fight fraud and corruption worldwide.
The laws are key to anti-bribery efforts, and insider disclosures have already resulted in millions of dollars in fines in the U.S. and beyond, Washington-based lawyer Stephen M. Kohn told a group of international anti-corruption organizations on Friday, February 1.
The “International Conference on Anticorruption Policies” took place in Attica, Greece and was sponsored by the Hellenic Anti-Corruption Organization. Kohn, who is director of the National Whistleblowers Center, was one of the speakers.
But whistleblowers need to be rewarded and protected from retribution, Kohn said. He has urged the European Parliament to strengthen its proposed whistleblower directive to protect the identity of anonymous whistleblowers.
U.S. whistleblower programs allow for the protection of witnesses and detection of corrupt activities, including bribes paid to politicians by multi-national corporations, Kohn said. Penalties act to deter fraud and bribery.
Without these programs, the costs of exposing fraud and bribery is prohibitive, Kohn said.
Internationally, whistleblowers are a critical source of information on money laundering and off-shore banking violations, he said. In addition, the FCPA prohibits publicly-traded corporations, both U.S. and international, from paying bribes to foreign officials. Kohn cited data collected since 2011: 3,305 whistleblowers from 119 countries outside the U.S. have filed claims under the FCPA whistleblower reward program. In one case, more than $30 million was paid to non-U.S. citizens who reported bribes paid overseas, Kohn noted
Confidential, anonymous reporting, financial rewards, and protection against retaliation are key to successful whistleblower programs, he noted. The SEC and other U.S. agencies run independent whistleblower offices. They work to protect insider anonymity and prohibit retaliation, he said. They investigate the allegation and coordinate rewards for quality information on fraud and bribery. Europe should do the same, Kohn said
Other Speakers at the meeting included Vladimir Hrle from the European Criminal Bar Association, Ciro Stazzeri from Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Center-Italy, Mia Rupcic of the Antibribery Academy International and George Patoulis, MD, the President of Central Union of Municipalities of Greece.