Foreign Corruption Whistleblowers

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.


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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

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[Turkey] “Prosecutors looking for ways to contact whistleblower,” Today’s Zaman, November 3, 2009.

Prosecutors conducting a probe into a clandestine group known as Ergenekon are searching for a way to reach a military officer who mailed the original copy of a military plot against the ruling party to an İstanbul prosecutor. The plot is aimed at undermining the power of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the faith-based Gülen movement.

[UK] Lakhani, Nina, “NHS is paying millions to gag whistleblowers,” The Independent, November 1, 2009.

NHS whistleblowers are routinely gagged in order to cover up dangerous and even dishonest practices that could attract bad publicity and damage a hospital’s reputation. Some local NHS bodies are spending millions of taxpayers’ money to pay off and silence whistleblowers with “super gags” to stop them going public with patient safety incidents. Experts warn that patients’ lives are being endangered by the use of intimidatory tactics to force out whistleblowers and deter other professionals from coming forward. Click here to read more.


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As Richard Renner wrote in the previous post, Transparency International (TI) just released their “Global Corruption Report 2009: Corruption and the Private Sector (GCR).” In it, more than 75 experts examine a wide range of corruption issues around the world.    

In this post, I would like to introduce several whistleblowing issues around the world based on the report.    

The report emphasizes that “recognizing the role of whistleblowers” is one of key elements of good corporate governance, mentioning “employees are the single most important group of actors capable of detecting corporate fraud and as such they represent an extraordinarily important pillar in the system of checks and balances that comprise corporate governance.” 


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