SEC proposes changes to its rules: what are the pros and cons of rewarding whistleblowers?

01/08/2018 – WINSEC-logo.png is delighted to publish this GAP blog on the proposed changes to the SEC whistleblower reward program rules. The piece highlights some of the pros and cons of financial rewards or “incentives” to individuals who report wrongdoing in the financial sector. Those who report to the SEC can come from any company listed on the US Stock Exchange, which means whistleblowers approach the SEC from all around the world with information on corporate wrongdoing. This international reach along with the successful and high profile prosecutions the SEC has been able to mount against companies who breach SEC rules, and the high monetary value of some of the rewards paid out to whistleblowers, has sparked the interest of financial regulators in other jurisdictions in the concept of financial incentives as a means to increase their regulatory effectiveness.

Financially rewarding or offering bounties to those who can provide specific regulatory or criminal information is often juxtaposed against the compensation that should be provided to whistleblowers for any losses they suffer when speaking out about a range of wrongdoing. Though rewards and compensation are both financial in nature, they clearly serve different ends. Likewise other tools—also developed in the US system—that specifically empower whistleblowers by actively engaging them in the resolution of the wrongdoing or in holding the wrongdoers to account, as in the US False Claims Act approach to tackling fraud from government or the rules governing how the US Federal Office of Special Counsel reviews investigative findings with whistleblowers, are often overlooked in the “rewarding whistleblowers” debate.

WIN will continue to host discussions and debates on these issues (and more!) to encourage wider and better informed debate on good practices in promoting public interest whistleblowing and protecting whistleblowers around the world.

Continue reading

LuxLeaks Trial – Court of Appeal confirms acquittal of Antoine Deltour

15/05/2018 – The Luxembourg Court of Appeals has today recognised Antoine Deltour’s status as a whistleblower as defined by European Court of Human Rights. This decision has resulted in a full acquittal of all charges against Antoine relating to the copying and use of the LuxLeaks documents.

The Court of Appeal judgement recorded the copying of internal documents as a legal breach but, ultimately, withheld the suspended prison sentence and fine imposed at trial in 2016. This victory comes after the Court of Cassation’s rejection in January 2018 of Antoine’s original conviction.

Following the verdict, WIN tweeted:

Antoine’s case exposes many of the challenges facing whistleblowers and those involved in protecting whistleblowers, particularly in regards to the criminal sentence originally passed at trial. WIN remains committed to strengthening civil society organisations that defend the rights of whistleblowers and address a range of threats to public interest.

WIN congratulates Antoine, his family, his legal team led by William Bourdon and all those who saw the importance of the substance of his whistleblowing and the right for him to be protected for doing so.

Click here for the full press statement from Antoine Deltour’s support committee.

Whistleblowing – Corruption Prevention and the Public Interest

anna-myers-66958854In 2014, WIN Director Anna Myers was invited to give a lecture to the Thailand Anti-Corruption Agency about whistleblowing at the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) near Vienna, Austria. The Academy asked Anna to write an article for the alumni magazine, IACAlumnus,  which she did including some of the questions that participants in the workshop asked – and which remain highly relevant today – and her attempts to answer them. WIN thanks the IACA for permission to reprint the article.

Whistleblowing is a hot topic right now not just for those interested in tackling corruption as a social, political, and economic ill, but it is also fast gaining currency amongst those working to prevent serious human rights abuses, as well as practitioners working to deliver more open government and access to information. Further, the link between whistleblowing and protecting journalists’ sources is also being highlighted, particularly among a new generation of journalists not necessarily based in established media or newspaper organizations, and who conduct serious investigations into corruption.[1]

However, while legal protection for whistleblowers is still a new concept, the act of whistleblowing is not new. Whistleblowing is a human instinct – speaking up to alert Continue reading

Global pressure mounting on next UN Secretary General to heed and protect UN whistleblowers

WIN members join groups from around the world to get answers from the next head of the world’s most powerful international body. Protecting whistleblowers saves lives.

[30 September 2016]  For the first time in the history of the United Nations, candidates for the post of Secretary General have been asked for their views on whistleblower protection.  This is the first opportunity for the candidates to say what they think and their answers will matter in determining whether the United Nations as an organisation is able to respond effectively to new challenges to its mandate and purpose.

Implementing effective whistleblowing arrangements is obviously about good governance but it must be acknowledged that the UN is not like any other institution or body in the world.  When UN staff report concerns they come across in the course of their work, the impact of what they are reporting often affects the most vulnerable people and communities in the world.  How the UN handles whistleblowing within its own systems is felt way beyond the organisation itself. Continue reading