From the markets to the boardroom to the picket line, the reach of Danske Bank’s money laundering fraud scandal continued to play out this week.

Reuters delivered several stories. A Wednesday morning story reported  that foreign investors sold Danish shares worth almost $14 billion in 2018, according to a report from Denmark’s central bank.

The divestment of bank equities may reflect a loss of confidence in the Danish banking sector in the wake of Danske Bank’s money laundering case, it said.

“The trust from international investors has certainly been reduced,” governor Lars Rohde told reporters in Copenhagen. He said political initiatives to combat money laundering were paramount to restore foreigners’ trust in Danish banks.

Rohde is the chairman of the board of governors of Danmarks Nationalbank.

Danske-Bank-Whistleblower-Howard-Wilkinson. Source: www.kkc.com
Howard Wilkinson

The Danske Bank scandal was exposed by whistleblower Howards Wilkinson. He reported suspicious financial transactions at bank’s Estonia branch, where he worked until 2014. It has been calculated that up to $20 billion in fraudulent financial activity have been brought to light by Wilkinson’s disclosures.

Stephen M. Kohn, Wilkinson’s whistleblower attorney, said in a statement that whistleblowers need to be supported, not vilified: “If the Bank had simply properly investigated Mr. Wilkinson’s initial disclosures in 2012 and 2013, they could have avoided most of this mess.”

Continue Reading Investors bail while shareholders demand answers and action from Danske Bank on money laundering scandal

Two UK researchers report that “for both US and UK doping whistleblowers, coming forward with information requires ongoing personal sacrifice – emotional, financial and relational.” From “The Conversation” — a site that offers academic research in plain English. More here on whistleblower protection and athletics from the NWC.

swimmers
Shutterstock
by Kelsey Erickson, Leeds Beckett University and Susan Backhouse, Leeds Beckett University

 

Athletes should not feel like they have to choose between their careers or telling the truth about doping in sport. Yet, our new research shows that this is (too) often the reality for many involved in the sporting world. Telling the truth isn’t always rewarded. Instead, speaking up – whistleblowing – is too often followed by retribution.

Our new research shows that whistleblowing on doping in elite sport can (and does) come at a cost to the whistleblower. As we discovered, for both US and UK doping whistleblowers, coming forward with information requires ongoing personal sacrifice – emotional, financial and relational.

Contrary to common belief, whistleblowing on doping is generally not a simple matter of report and move on. Rather, it is a series of steps – each accompanied by complex decisions – that exist from the moment of witnessing the questionable behaviour to well beyond the act of actually whistleblowing.

Continue Reading Research: Whistleblowing athletes shouldn’t have to choose between their careers and the truth

Title page Supreme Court case 18-31`5Members of the Supreme Court are skeptical of interpreting the statute of limitations in False Claims Acts cases in a way that would “help fraudsters,” according to attorney Stephen M. Kohn, who attended arguments today in a key False Claims Act case.

Kohn is author of an amicus brief in the case submitted on behalf of the National Whistleblower Center. A decision in Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States, will determine the statute of limitations window for False Claims Act (FCA) cases when the government declines to intervene.

“The Justices appeared to understand the purpose of the False Claims Act is to help the government uncover fraud and were skeptical of interpreting the statute of limitations in a manner that would help fraudsters,” Kohn noted

More from Kohn’s report:

Demonstrating the Courts understanding as to why Congress would have wanted a longer statute of limitations when the relator moves a False Claims Act case forward, even without the government, Justice Sotomayor noted that, “in qui tam the recovery in bulk goes to the government.” Continue Reading Supreme Court justices described as “skeptical” of limiting statute of limitations for False Claim Act

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Tuesday in Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States, a case that will determine the statute of limitations window for False Claims Act (FCA) cases when the government declines to intervene.

At issue:  How should the statute of limitations apply in a qui tam suit in which the United States declines to intervene?  Does the three-year limitations period begin to run from the date of the whistleblower’s knowledge of the alleged false claim. Or does it begin on the date of the government official’s knowledge of the alleged false claim?

The case revolves around whistleblower Billy Joe Hunt. In 2013, he filed a qui tam case alleging fraud by his former employer, a war contractor performing munitions clean-up work in Iraq in 2006. The government declined to intervene in Hunt’s case and it was dismissed by a district court.  The Eleventh Circuit then allowed the case to go forward ruling that the FCA’s three-year limitations period was triggered by the government’s knowledge of the alleged fraud—not the whistleblower’s knowledge.

Those arguing in support of the Eleventh Circuit ruling include the federal government and a 20-state coalition. An amicus brief filed on the coalition’s behalf by the Indiana attorney general argues that the states have a “strong fiscal interest in ensuring the False Claims Act (FCA) provides adequate time to investigate, prepare, and file FCA claims.”

Continue Reading Case before Supreme Court Tuesday will have a implications for qui tam whistleblowers

John Kostyack Previews Strategy
for New Era of Whistleblower Advocacy

The National Whistleblower announced today that it is naming John Kostyack, a well-known nonprofit leader, attorney and policy expert, to serve as its Executive Director effectively immediately. Below is Kostyack’s first statement as Executive Director: 

What an exciting time to be joining the National Whistleblower Center team.  NWC is one of the world’s most respected nonprofits leading the fight for whistleblowers and against corruption. Thanks to laws secured in recent years by NWC and its partners and growing bipartisan interest among policy makers to strengthen these laws, NWC is poised to quickly ramp up its work with whistleblowers to reduce environmental damage and other harm to the public caused by large-scale corruption. Continue Reading Meet National Whistleblower Center’s New Executive Director

Register here. 

From The Environmental Law Institute.

Illegal timber trade comprises 15-30% of the global timber trade according to Interpol, valued at USD$51-152 billion every year. Monitoring logging activities and enforcing forestry laws is notoriously difficult.

To celebrate this year’s International Day of Forests on March 21, join the Environmental Law Institute, the National Whistleblower Center, and the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement for this co-sponsored seminar, drawing on the experiences of experts in the forestry sector to explore the role of citizens in combating forest crime. Panelists will consider the challenges of enforcing timber harvesting regulations, the environmental impacts of the proliferation of illegal logging, the use of existing legal provisions to incentivize citizen enforcement, and how practitioners can support this process.

This webinar is part of an ongoing seminar series that examines how whistleblower laws, emerging technologies, and citizen engagement are transforming the landscape of environmental enforcement. The series aims to build capacity among government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals about whistleblower considerations. This seminar series will also examine how various stakeholders may harness the power of new technologies and existing legal frameworks to support environmental defenders and encourage environmental whistleblowing.

Click here to register for the webinar. 

They say that sunlight is the best disinfectant. When information about corruption or other wrongdoing comes to light, that transparency results in accountability, both against

Maya Efrati head shot
Maya Efrati, National Whistleblower Center

those who are culpable and for those affected by it. Whistleblowers are the ones with that crucial information.

Whistleblowers are people who bravely come forward with information about fraud, corruption, and other criminal behavior. A whistleblower may be anyone from an employee at a company who comes across fraud to a government employee who sees the law being disregarded and rights trampled to a member of an impacted community whose family is affected by environmental catastrophe because of negligence in the race for profit.

Despite enormous personal and professional risks, they bring to light what would otherwise remain hidden. Often, those who blow the whistle on wrongdoing are disparaged and retaliated against for their actions. Even still, they report such crime knowing they may lose their jobs and income, only to face a negative social stigma while fighting an uphill battle. For the sake of truth and transparency, they are willing to come forward, to step up, and to disclose what they know.

But at present our society does not honor whistleblowers, and because of that we don’t encourage them to step forward. Continue Reading We Need To Change the Way We Talk About Whistleblowers

Three Canadian whistleblowers have been awarded more than $7 million, the first payment of its kind by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).

Whistleblower graphic “These individuals voluntarily provided high quality, timely, specific and credible information, which helped advance enforcement actions resulting in monetary payments to the OSC,” according to a statement from the Canadian agency.

To protect the identity of the whistleblowers, the agency did not release names or any information on the cases.

The OSC whistleblower program was established in 2016 and reports that it is the only Canadian securities whistleblower program offering financial awards. The office reported that, as of July 2018, it had received more than 200 tips.

Stephen M. Kohn, director of the National Whistleblower Center in Washington, notes in a statement that the award is a breakthrough for whistleblowers worldwide.

“Canada becomes the first country after the United States to recognize that substantial whistleblower rewards are the key to fraud detection and successful prosecutions,” Kohn wrote. “We hope that other advanced democratic nations follow this lead and enact qui tam laws similar to those in the United States.”  Continue Reading A Canadian whistleblower program targeting financial crime pays off

Whistleblowers would be permitted to report wrongdoing to outside authorities before reporting to their company or agency’s internal review program, according to a provisional rule approved this week by the European Commission and member countries.

Virginie Rozière, a French Member of the European Parliament (MEP)
French MEP Virginie Rozière, via press conference video.

Action on the EU whistleblower directive had been stalled over the reporting issue. Several member countries, led by Germany and France, wanted to require employees to report potential crimes and fraud internally before going to regulators and law enforcement. Transparency, anti-corruption groups and their supporters believe that approach would have made it more difficult for individuals to come forward with information about wrongdoing.

“The debate has been quite lively over the course of the last few weeks,” Virginie Rozière, a French Member of the European Parliament (MEP) said in French at a press conference following the decision.

The provisional rule allows for what are called “safe reporting channels.”

From the European Commission release:

Whistleblowers are encouraged to report first internally, if the breach they want to reveal can be effectively addressed within their organisation and where they do not risk retaliation. They may also report directly to the competent authorities as they see fit, in light of the circumstances of the case.

Transparency International called the provisional rule “a pathbreaking piece of legislation,” citing the case of Danske Bank whistleblower Howard Wilkinson.

“Whistleblowers in the EU, like Howard Wilkinson, the Danske Bank whistleblower, have spent far too long facing unjust retaliation for speaking out. It is quite an accomplishment that negotiations between the institutions have come to a positive end,” according to a statement from Nick Aiossa of Transparency International.

Continue Reading After a “lively debate,” EU commission approves provisional whistleblower protection law offering “safe channels” to report wrongdoing

The Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) should coordinate with the military services to do a better job of protecting whistleblower confidentiality and addressing delays in handling cases, according to a new report.

The Government Accountability Office report found the IG offices have made progress since past reviews, but needs to do more to protect confidentiality. The review found that employees without “the need to know” have had access to sensitive whistleblower information.

While the timeliness of handling cases has improved in some areas, delays persist in others, according to the report.  For example, the average number of days to complete military and contractor reprisal investigations increased between 2017 and 2018 from 394 days to 541 days.

The DOD IG completed closed 73 investigations in 2018, including 13 senior official misconduct cases and 60 military, contractor, and civilian reprisal cases. However, about 85 percent of all investigations “did not meet the timeliness goals.”

Continue Reading GAO: Department of Defense is getting better at dealing with whistleblowers, but has some work to do.