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.

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.

All three position on the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) are now empty with the expiration of the only member’s appointment. In February, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved two of President Trump’s MSPB nominees, but the full Senate has not considered them yet.

A letter from groups representing federal workers, as well as whistleblower and taxpayer advocates, raised concerns about the future of the board.

The MSPB is a three-person board which hears appeals of lower level personnel decisions. The Board hears whistleblower cases and is the backstop for maintaining a non-partisan, professional civil service as the sole enforcement body on many cases. It has not had a quorum since just before President Trump took office. The MSPB needs a quorum of two to act. The term of the single sitting member, Mark A. Robbins, ended on February 28.

A Washington Post column about unfilled political position mentions the MSPB.

The MSPB has a vital mission, namely, to oversee federal hiring, employee management and firing, as well as to provide protection against whistleblower retaliation in government. Perhaps the most invisible force at work at the MSPB is upholding the constitutional legal principles of due process and checks and balances that apply across all three branches of government. That makes the work of the MSPB crucial to making democracy work across the U.S. government. Davidson.  Continue Reading Yet another try to confirm MSPB board nominees. Then, on to a 2,000-case backlog.

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 United Nations has named March 3, Sunday, as World Wildlife Day.  This year’s theme is “Life below water,” and events took pace Friday at the United Nations in New York and around the globe.

They include shoreline trash collection in British Columbia, a photo contest on the shores of  Lake Victoria in Uganda and a youth art competition. Siem Reap, Cambodia will host a “day of exciting wildlife awareness activities and game for kids.” With the aquatic theme, the event’s film festival offers movies on whales, overfishing, penguins and pollution. Find trailers for many on the event’s video channel.

National Whistleblower Center and the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) offered a webinar Tuesday on using whistleblowers address wildlife crimes like poaching, overfishing, habitat destruction and trafficking. The center’s Global Wildlife Whistleblower Program partners with conservation and anti-trafficking groups to expand and strengthen wildlife whistleblower programs. They see whistleblower rewards as a powerful but underused tool that could bolster the enforcement of wildlife protection laws.

Continue Reading On World Wildlife Day, a reminder that whistleblowers can help protect turtles, dolphins and other marine species