For International Women’s Day, a few whistleblowers.

From the NWC:

Dr. Tommie (“Toni”) G. Savage

Savage had a distinguished 20 year career in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’, until she blew the whistle on the  fraud she discovered.

Jane Turner

Turner successful fought her removal and won a historic victory for all FBI whistleblowers before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  She challenged her retaliation in federal court, and won a unanimous jury verdict in her favor, obtaining the largest compensatory damage award permitted under the law for federal employees.  Jane also exposed criminal theft of property at the 9/11 crime scene by a handful of FBI agents.  She was harshly retaliated against for reporting these violations to the DOJ Inspector General.  After a ten-year battle, she prevailed, becoming only one of a small handful of FBI agents to win her cases under the FBI whistleblower Protection Act.

Continue Reading Women whistleblowers show how it’s done

A round-up of recent whistleblower news.

  • The Conversation: #MeToo whistleblowing is upending century-old legal precedent demanding loyalty to the boss

#MeToo was, of course, about sexual harassment and assault. But it was also a form of mass whistleblowing. The movement signaled victims’ willingness – at an unprecedented scale – to defy promises of secrecy to their employers in service of a larger truth by revealing their experiences of workplace harassment.

In the March 5 piece, Elizabeth C. Tippett, an associate professor at the University of Oregon law school, explains what her research into loyalty revealed about whistleblowing.  She said the courts and lawmakers prioritized an employer’s right to loyalty in the past. That is changing.

As legal scholar Richard Moberly documented, the U.S. Supreme Court has been remarkably consistent in recent decades in protecting private-sector whistleblowers. Congress has moved in the same direction, tacking on whistleblower protections in major federal legislation, including the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform statute.

Indeed, the righteousness of whistleblowers has become a rare matter of bipartisan consensus. In 2017, every lawmaker in both the House and Senate voted in favor of a law expanding whistleblower protections for federal employees.

Continue Reading Whistleblowers have been making headlines this week. Here are a few.

By Hollyn Walters

This week’s World Ocean Summit in Abu Dhabi will address five major threats to the oceans: overfishing, coastal pollution, habitat destruction, warming, and acidification. The goal of the summit is to build conceptual bridges across governments and organizations in order to produce technical, financial, and governmental solutions to ocean harm.

Leaders in sustainability and ocean economies will develop partnerships and initiatives between advocacy organizations and governments to promote the healing of our oceans.

oceanThe event, which was organized by The Economist, will bring together policy-makers, technology innovators and ocean entrepreneurs to explore how they can work together to promote marine sustainability.

While advocates in Abu Dhabi are building their environmentally-friendly bridges, citizens across the world can assist by blowing the whistle on those who contribute to the destruction of the oceans.Whistleblowers are essential to the dissolution of environmental criminal activity occurring in all public and private sectors.  Continue Reading Whistleblowers can be part of the solution as the ocean summit targets threats to the sea

The False Claims Act (FCA) has long served as a powerful weapon against fraud and waste in government programs, from rancid Civil War rations to Medicare scams. The Department of Justice (DOJ) recovered $2.88 billion under the law last year, with whistleblowers involved in the majority of cases.

March 2 marks the  anniversary of the law, which was signed in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. After the Civil War, the FCA continued to identify military contractors guilty of mismanagement and fraud. With rising health costs, much of it covered by Medicare, most cases now involve medical providers and suppliers. The DOJ’s December report noted that $2.5 of the $2.8 billion in recovery involved the health care industry.The first line of a story in the trade publication Modern Healthcare reports “Healthcare industry groups have always hated False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuits.”

Continue Reading For more than 150 years, the False Claims Act has been key to ferreting out fraud in US military and health care spending.

“Roan @ The Gates” is new play about a whistleblower and how her actions impact her marriage. The play just ended a run at Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey

Outspoken civil rights attorney Nat and her NSA analyst wife Roan seem to have it all together. But when their personal life collides with national security, it launches a beautiful, high-stakes adventure that illuminates the cost of secrecy.

In the real world, whistleblowers were credited last week with reporting concerns to Congress about a White House plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Continue Reading The drama of whistleblowing, on stage and in the White House

Estonian Financial Supervision Authority logo
Seal of the Estonian EBFS

Danske Bank has been ordered to close its troubled Estonian branch before the end of 2019.  Estonian regulators noted on February 19 that the bank violated anti-money laundering regulations for many years by allowing high-risk money-laundering clients to make suspicious transactions through the bank.

In addition, they stated that Danske Bank misled the Estonian public authorities by providing them with inadequate information and thus actually hampered their investigation, according to a statement from the Estonian Board of Financial Supervision.

Danske Bank announced the same day that it is also closing banks in Latvia and Lithuania and Russia.

In a related move, the European Union Banking Authority has opened a formal investigation “into a possible breach of Union law by the Estonian Financial Services Authority and the Danish Financial Services Authority in connection with money laundering activities linked to Danske Bank and its Estonian branch in particular.”

Here’s a roundup of reaction and reporting:

“This is a lesson to corporate banks.  Danske Bank made a grave error when it forced Mr. Wilkinson to sign a restrictive non-disclosure agreement, instead of working with Mr. Wilkinson in trying to fix the problems,” according to a statement from Kohn. Continue Reading A whistleblower exposed money laundering at Danske Bank’s Estonian branch. Now the government is shutting it down.

From Terra Verde, a weekly public radio program on environmental news.

KPFA logoHas the US government been failing to take advantage of an existing wildlife crime whistleblower program to fight against wildlife crime? Terra Verde host and Earth Island Journal editor Maureen Nandini Mitra explores this subject, as well a new wildlife crime whistleblower bill that’s making its way through Congress right now, with environmental journalist Richard Schiffman, and Stephen Kohn, a Washington, DC-based attorney and the executive director of the National Whistleblower Center.


 

In the Earth Island Journal story, Schiffman describes Kohn’s argument that “the best way to fight wildlife crime is to tap informants within trafficking groups — the poachers or the middlemen who transport illegal wildlife parts to a final destination — to help bust crime rings preying on endangered species. Enlisting whistleblowers in the Gulf and across totoaba smuggling routes, he believes, could have helped law enforcement break up what he calls the “totoaba cartel. Continue Reading Talking about wildlife whistleblowers and how they could save the world’s cutest porpoise

When does the statute of limitations clock start running in a False Claims Act (FCA) case when the government declines to intervene in a whistleblower case?  That is the question the Supreme Court will consider when it takes up Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States.

The National Whistleblower Center filed an amicus curiae brief in the case this week.

At issue: Must an FCA plaintiff rely on the statute of limitations in a suit in which the United States declines to intervene?  If so, does the three-year limitations period begins to run from the date of the whistleblower’s knowledge of the alleged false claim, or from the date of the government official’s knowledge of the alleged false claim?

The brief, written by NWC executive director Stephen M. Kohn, notes that his organization takes the position that the “merits of a claim often bear no relation to the duration of a case.” Continue Reading Brief: Supreme Court needs to uphold False Claims Act statute of limitations as “clearly set forth in the law.”

Whistleblower Protection in EU

The proposed European Parliament directive on whistleblower protection could make it more difficult for individuals to come forward with information about wrongdoing, according to a coalition of transparency and anti-corruption groups.

At issue is a provision that requires employees to report potential crimes and fraud internally before going to regulators and law enforcement.

A letter signed by a range of groups calls on the EU to protect the “free flow of information necessary for responsible exercises of institutional authority.” Disclosures to law enforcement and regulatory agencies provide a “safety net for protecting the public interest and the public’s right to know when organisations are corrupt or fail to take responsibility,” they write.

If this mandatory internal disclosure regime stands, the directive will have abandoned responsible Europeans who raise concerns appropriately to their employers through their supervisors or normal management channels of communication, who disclose information to competent authorities who have the power and mandate to address wrongdoing, or who provide information to the journalists who investigate and report in the public interest. They will suffer. Europe will suffer.

Continue Reading The effort to improve whistleblower protection in Europe will fail unless insiders can seek help from outsiders

A man once called “America’s most famous whistleblower” has died at the age of 92. In 1968, A. Ernest Fitzgerald, a top financial manager for the Air Force, revealed a $2.3 billion cost overrun in the Air Forces’ Lockheed C-5 aircraft program. He did it before Congress and in defiance of his superiors.

From The Washington Post 

Under oath, he said the C-5A was $2 billion over budget. In testifying, Mr. Fitzgerald later said, he was merely “committing truth.” The revelation about the vast cost overruns made national headlines, stunning members of Congress as well as Mr. Fitzgerald’s superiors.

In 1996, he received the Paul H. Douglas Award,  given each year to a “government official … whose public actions or writings have made a significant contribution to the practice and understanding of ethical behavior in government.”

A biography posted on the award program website described the retribution against Fitzgerald.

Continue Reading A. Ernest Fitzgerald, once called “America’s most famous whistleblower,” dies at 92