Foreign Corruption Whistleblowers

Sepp Blatter’s announced plan to step down as FIFA’s president to allow him the opportunity to remain “in a position to focus on profound reforms” flies in the face of the willful ignorance of the massive fraud and corruption he has exhibited for the last decade and a half. The manner and method of the announcement makes clear that meaningful reform is not the goal. Not a single concrete proposal or guidance followed. Instead, FIFA’s audit and compliance committee chairman, Domenico Scala, glumly mentions, “reforms will include fundamental changes to the way the organization is structured.” This statement is so lacking in substance as to render it meaningless. Continue Reading Sepp Blatter’s Calls for Reform of FIFA Lack Substance

Breakthrough For International Whistleblowers



26 MAY 2015

The Luna-Centre for Responsible Democracy is co-sponsoring an important international seminar on how whistleblowers from around the world can use U.S. laws to expose corruption.

“Breakthrough in Protecting International Whistleblowers: Non-United States Citizens Now Entitled to Whistleblower Protections and Rewards” will take place at the Unitic Business Center, Sarajevo, BiH, on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. (CEST, GMT+1).

The seminar will be broadcast via free LIVE STREAM starting at 11 a.m. (CEST, GMT+1).  Visit the Global Whistleblower website to access the free LIVE STREAM.

Stephen M. Kohn, a preeminent whistleblower attorney from the United States, will host the seminar. Mr. Kohn will explain how whistleblowers can use U.S. laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, to expose corruption and obtain rewards regardless of their country of citizenship. Mr. Kohn represented the UBS/Swiss bank whistleblower who obtained a $104 million award from the U.S. government.

This informational seminar is part of the National Whistleblower Center’s International Anti-Corruption Campaign. The seminar is also co-sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the support of the U.S. Embassy international speakers program.

DEUTSCH          ESPAÑOL        FRANÇAIS         NEDERLANDS         Русский

GREEK     ITALIANO     PORTUGUESE        العَرَبِيةُ‎‎         中文         日本語

The National Whistleblower Center recently met with legislative aides for Members of the Japanese Diet and a delegation of distinguished leaders from Kazakhstan.  The purpose of these meetings was to educate the foreign officials on how whistleblowers are protected in the United States and the challenges that whistleblowers face.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center led the meetings.  Mr. Kohn’s presentation included a discussion of the National Whistleblower Center’s recent report “Whistleblower Reward Programs: An International Framework for the Detection of Corruption and Illegal Bribery” which sets forth the framework for a highly successful international whistleblower rewards program. The report also documents how whistleblowers are key to the detection of fraud and misconduct and how reward programs are remarkably successful. Continue Reading NWC Program Educates Foreign Government Officials In Fight Against Corruption and Bribery

On February 6, 2014, National Whistleblower Center Executive Director, Stephen Kohn, was a guest panelist at a forum regarding "Accountability in Government" held by the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Representatives of 19 countries including, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Croatia, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, India, Iraq, Jordan, Latvia, Lesotho, Macedonia, Nigeria, Slovakia, Tanzania, and Venezuela attended the program.

Mr. Kohn’s presentation,"Whistleblower Protection: Key To Transparency and Accountability" is linked here. In his presentation, Mr. Kohn stressed the need for increased international whistleblower protections and how NGOs and citizens of foreign countries can use the new protections created under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to battle corruption.

Mr. Kohn stated, "The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enhances the ability of citizens and NGOs to prevent bribery of government officials." He also urged the representatives to carefully review Chapters 6, 7, 8 and checklist 7 in The Whistleblower’s Handbook for potential international application. 

On Tuesday, November 5, 2013, Transparency International released a report finding that the vast majority of EU member states have either partial or no laws to protect whistleblowers.

Two weeks ago, on October 23, the European Commission rejected a request to introduce EU whistleblower protection before the end of the year. 

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Sergei Magnitsky
        Sergei Magnitsky

On December 6, 2012 Congress passed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012. (Magnitsky Act). The law was inspired by a Russian lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky, detained in 2008 after he blew the whistle on a $230 million tax fraud scheme involving the collaboration of Russian government officials and convicted criminals. He was arrested for his whistleblowing and detained for nearly a year before he was beaten to death in prison.

In October 2012, Stephen Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center, interviewed Jamison Firestone, the law partner and friend of Sergei Magnitsky. Mr. Firestone related the horrific yet compelling tale of what happened from the time Mr. Magnitsky uncovered the tax fraud until his death at the hands of the Russian authorities. Listen to the interview.

The passing of the Magnitsky Act is a major step forward in the protection of international whistleblowers. This is the first time the U. S. Government has passed a bill in recognition of the hardship and sacrifice of international whistleblowers. This move sets important precedence for the advancement of increased protections for whistleblowers throughout the world. In addition to the Magnitsky Act, the U.S. Congress has significantly enhanced protections for international whistleblowers through the reward provisions applicable to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and under the IRS Whistleblower law, which allows foreign nationals to blow the whistle on U.S. tax evaders in other countries.

Continue Reading Congress Passes Magnitsky Act

NWC nabbed an exclusive interview with Jamison Firestone, the law partner and friend of Sergei Magnitsky – a whistleblower whose disturbing story reveals the ruthlessness and corruption of the Russian government. Sergei was tortured and killed after he exposed the looting of Russian taxpayers’ money.

Mr. Firestone explains how Sergei discovered a $230 million fraud in which legitimate Russian businesses were overtaken, and forged documents were used to obtain tax refunds that fattened the pockets of organized criminals as well as the crooked tax officials who approved the fraudulent transfers. Mistakenly believing that the Medvedev Administration would support his efforts to fight corruption, Sergei took a stand against this massive fraud, and filed numerous complaints with Russian law enforcement agencies. He never expected that his testimony against Russian officials would lead to his arrest and detention without trial for 51 weeks. Mr. Firestone describes the horrifying details of Sergei’s squalid prison conditions, and exposes the vicious cruelty by Russian officials who retaliated against Sergei and his family when he refused to change his story. Mr. Firestone explains the cozy relationships between the investigators and perpetrators of the crime, and reveals the shameful attempts by the Russian government to cover up their horrible actions and intimidate Sergei’s family. You won’t want to miss this explosive story – listen here.

Check out the Russian Untouchable’s website for more about Sergei’s story.

Alexei Dymovsky, a Russian police major, fed up with rampant corruption decided to use YouTube to report his grievances. He blew the whistle on his superiors forcing officers to investigate nonexistent crimes and arrest innocent people to improve crime statistics. Shortly after his video was posted Dymovsky was fired and jailed on fraud charges. After six weeks, the charges were dropped after the case became an embarrassment to the government.  Dymovsky’s videos have been viewed over 2 million times and have encouraged other Russians to use YouTube to blow the whistle on corruption.

Budi SuhartoBudi Suharto (right in photo) visited me at the National Whistleblowers Center today.  Mr. Suharto is the Head of Bilateral Cooperation II Section of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia. We discussed how in both the United States and in Indonesia, recent criminal prosecutions of whistleblowers raise a concern that other employees with information about corruption may be discouraged from coming forward. In the United States, the prosecutions of Bradley Birkenfeld and Thomas Drake, and the detention of Bradley Manning, remain active deterrents against whistleblowing. We discussed my recent submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United States. Attachment B to that submission contains citations to studies showing that employee reports are the best way to detect fraud, corruption and other violations of law.  In searching for ways to detect and deter corruption, protecting whistleblowers and encouraging them to come forward is a good starting place.

Yesterday, Transparency International (TI) released a practical guide for combating corruption in relief and reconstruction efforts.

“Disasters like the catastrophe in Haiti highlight the absolute necessity of ensuring that the funds and supplies allocated actually reach those in need. Corruption in emergency aid is a matter of life and death. Stopping and preventing corruption should be a strategic priority for the humanitarian community,” said Christiaan Poortman, Global Programmes Director at TI.

Strong whistleblowing mechanisms are recommended as the best way to stop corruption and ensure that humanitarian aid gets where it needs to go.  The report states that a “confidential and independent mechanism (whether internal or exernal) helps create an environment intolerant of corruption, in which staff feel safe to blow the whistle without fear of reprisal.”  TI recommends that whistleblowing actually be made a staff duty and if an investigation finds corruption, the agency must take action to ensure that staff trust the whistleblowing process to correct their complaints (Pages 19-20).

For entire report please click here.