Assisting International Whistleblowers to Combat Corruption
Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto is committed to working with whistleblowers, international NGOs and responsive government officials to combat corruption and promote transparency by using powerful tools, such as those contained in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Although corruption is a major problem in the United States, there are nations and regions in the world where corruption is pervasive and its corrosive impact on the public interest cannot be overstated.
Whistleblower Rewards – International
In a major breakthrough for international whistleblowers, key U.S. reward laws have been amended to have transnational application. As of 2014, whistleblowers from over 80 countries have filed critical information about fraud and corruption with U.S. agencies and have received substantial rewards for their contributions. The partners of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto authored a report titled, The Importance of Whistleblower Rewards in Combating International Corruption which details these international reward programs and how whistleblowers and international organizations can put them to the best possible use.
In a rare show of international unity, the United States and 139 other nations signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. On the passage of the Convention, Kofi A. Annan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations wrote,“Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. This evil phenomenon is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world that its effects are most destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining a Government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.”
Articles 32 and 33 of the Convention promote the protection of whistleblowers around the world. These articles ask the signatories of the Convention to pass legislation in their nations to protect witnesses of fraud, corruption and misconduct.
In addition to the UN Convention, other international anti-corruption treaties also require numerous nations around the world to protect whistleblowers. These include:
Agreement Establishing the Group of States Against Corruption (Group of States Against Corruption – GRECO)
Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (Group of States Against Corruption – GRECO)
Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)
The partners at Kohn Kohn and Colapinto have worked pro bono with U.S. officials, foreign governments and international NGOs in order to realize the global whistleblower protections promised in the Convention. We are the authors of a major report published by the National Whistleblower Center entitled The Importance of Whistleblower Rewards in Combating International Corruption.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
KKC believes that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is currently the single most important legal tool enhancing international whistleblower protection. In 2010, as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, whistleblowers obtained protections for raising allegations of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. As amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s power to protect whistleblowers and combat corruption is truly remarkable.
The law provides for whistleblowers to receive an award between 10 and 30 percent of the total amount recovered by the government if a successful enforcement action follows their disclosures. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act also allows whistleblowers to file their claims anonymously in the U.S., thereby evading the threat of retaliation. Furthermore, the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provisions also provide protection for employees who work in the United States and blow the whistle on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.
Under the whistleblower protection provisions of the FCPA and Dodd-Frank Act, as of September 2014 over 1,000 whistleblowers from 82 countries have filed claims in the United States, and international whistleblowers have obtained over $30 million in awards. Below are some newspaper articles highlighting this progress:
See the Whistleblower and Qui Tam Blog