01/08/2018 – WIN 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.
Grand Hall of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 5th – 6th June 2018
WIN Director, Anna Myers
A Loud Whistle, 5th June 2018
Photo credit: Zoran Raš for Pištaljka
WIN Director, Anna Myers and Tom Devine, Legal Director of GAP were among key speakers attending the international conference hosted by WIN member organisation Pištaljka last month. Focusing on collaborative practice between journalists and whistleblowers, the conference brought together international experts, politicians and members of the Serbia judiciary to discuss the contributions that whistleblowers in the field of anti-corruption and how various actors including journalists and prosecutors can assist in protecting and assisting those who are making disclosures.
The conference also provided an insight into the exceptional work undertaken in Serbia by Pištaljka in the eight years since their founding in 2010 as an innovative journalism platform for the protection of whistleblowers. Drawing on their founders’ own experiences of facing retaliation and persecution as journalists reporting censorship and conflict of interest, Pištaljka has published more than 600 fully documented investigative articles that have frequently played a part in launching official investigations into corruption.
‘Ireland had the strongest whistleblower law in the EU and had inspired reform with its legislation around the world. It looks like the government has broken something that didn’t need to be fixed. Irish whistleblowers, business and the Irish public will be the real losers here.’
Whistleblowing International Network (WIN)
04/07/2018 – WIN Director Anna Myers has joined several expert organisations, legal advisors and practitioners in signing a letter from Transparency International Ireland urging the Irish Government to amend the EU Protection of Trade Secrets Regulation (SI 188) on the basis of its creation of a new test for whistleblowers. Unlike the existing Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (PDA), SI 188 requires whistleblowers to demonstrate that their disclosure was motivated by a general public interest concern even if the disclosure is later deemed to be true, related to a criminal offence, or they reported it to their employer or the appropriate authorities.
Whilst the EU Trade Secrets Directive (passed in July 2016) is supposed to provide strong safeguards for intellectual property holders, there is no requirement in the Directive for any EU Member State to create an additional test for whistleblowers. Under the terms of the Irish proposals, whistleblowers reporting offences to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement or to law enforcement will not only be required to show they believed a crime was or about to be committed but will also have to prove they were motivated to protect the general public interest in reporting the crime.
On 18th May, WIN co-chaired a session at RightsCon 2018 in Toronto, Canada. The session, How whistleblowing is changing the world, paired WIN with The Signals Network to explore cross-sector collaboration opportunities between media, civil society, lawyers and whistleblowers and the
potential partnership opportunities between
WIN panellists included Antoine Deltour; Eduard Martin-Borregon from The Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER), Mexico and Tom Devine, Legal Director at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Washington DC. After the conference, Tom was interviewed about the case Of OSHA Federal Investigator and lawyer Darrell Whitman.
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.