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G20 Summit Whistleblower Protection Recommendations a “Good Start,” Lack “Teeth”

G20 Summit Whistleblower Protection Recommendations a “Good Start,” Lack “Teeth” 

Washington, D.C. July 8, 2019. The G20 Summit, held in Osaka, Japan last week, June 28-29, focused on Anti-corruption more than previous summits. This year, G20 adopted new commitments and resources for taking on corruption, which threatens sustainable development. 

The G20 Leaders endorsed High Level Principles for the Effective Protection of Whistleblowers, which recommends that G20 countries establish and implement laws and policies to protect whistleblowers. 

The recommendations set outlined in the "Principles" include:

  • A Recommendation that whistleblowers have a right to confidentiality;
  • Restrictions on the right of wrongdoers to file lawsuits against whistleblowers;
  • Recognition of the importance of establishing safe channels for whistleblowers to submit their reports;
  • Prohibitions against retaliation. 

"The Whistleblower Principles enacted by the G-20 are a step in the right direction but lacks teeth.  They outline non-binding principles and give the nation-states involved complete discretion in establishing whistleblower protections," said whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn.  

Kohn, a founding partner in the top qui tam whistleblower firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP, represents several international whistleblowers with claims under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, tax fraud whistleblowers, and other qui tam reward laws. He currently represents the Danske Bank money laundering whistleblower Howard Wilkinson

Kohn warned that the G20 Principles lacked any specific enforcement requirements and did not require particular action by the G-20 nations:  "Whistleblower's need more than abstract principles.  They need tangible legal protections.  Outside of the United States, the G-20 nations have failed to implement effective protections.  Nothing in the G-20 principles mandates any change to this irresponsible behavior," Kohn said

"The G-20 Whistleblower Principles also ignore the importance of implementing whistleblower reward laws.  As has been fully documented, whistleblower qui tam and reward laws have worked remarkably well in protecting whistleblowers and incentivizing the detection of frauds.  Europe and the G-20 nations must follow the lead of the United States and adopt qui tam protections for whistleblowers," Kohn added.

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The Whistleblower Blog is an editorially independent news and information source, sponsored by a pro bono public service project by Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP. The blog highlights important news, legal developments and policy issues critical to whistleblowers and their advocates, both in the United States and internationally. The contributors to this blog are respected leaders in their fields, including the authors of key whistleblower law books, current and former legal professors, spokespersons before Congressional committees and other public bodies, directors of non-profit whistleblower advocacy groups, and prominent attorneys specializing in representing/assisting whistleblowers in the United States and throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.