International Whistleblowers

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Major breakthrough for international whistleblowers!

On July 21, 2010 President Obama signed legislation that permits whistleblowers, including foreign nationals, to apply for monetary rewards based on reporting bribery prohibited under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mandates that the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) pay whistleblowers monetary rewards if they provide the U.S. government with information that leads to the successful enforcement of the FCPA.  The act is applicable even if bribes are paid in a foreign country and the whistleblower is a foreign national.
Click here to read the SEC’s Final Rules for the Dodd-Frank Act.
Click here to see a list of foreign companies registered in the United States and covered under the FCPA.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Whistleblowing

The FCPA prohibits thousands of corporations, both U.S. and international, from paying bribes to foreign officials and mandates proper financial record keeping.  Click here to read the FCPA in English and 14 other languages.

Those qualified to receive a monetary reward under the FCPA include “whistleblowers” that “voluntarily” submit “original information” that leads to the successful enforcement of the violation and collection of “monetary sanctions.”  Under the Dodd-Frank Act whistleblowers can submit claims “anonymously.”  The Dodd-Frank Act disqualifies some individuals from obtaining a whistleblower reward. The U.S. government has successfully prosecuted many foreign nationals and foreign corporations under the FCPA.  Two of the largest sanctions imposed under the FCPA:

  • Siemens, a German based manufacturer listed on the New York Stock Exchange, engaged in the systemic practice of paying bribes to foreign government officials to obtain business. Siemens settled to pay 0 million in disgorgement to the SEC and 0 million in criminal penalties to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
  • Italian companies ENI, S.p.A., and S.p.A.’s former Dutch subsidiary Snamprogetti Netherlands, B.V. were charged for their participation in a four-company joint venture that bribed Nigerian government officials to obtain construction contracts. ENI and Snamprogetti paid jointly 5 million in disgorgement to the SEC and Snamprogetti also paid a criminal penalty of 0 million to the Department of Justice (DOJ). For their connection in the bribery scheme, the four companies of the joint venture paid combined sanctions of rdaddphp.28 billion.
  • Additional information on FCPA cases.

In addition to the FCPA, other U.S. whistleblower laws may also be applicable internationally, including the following:

  • U.S. nationals holding undisclosed illegal foreign bank accounts
  • U.S. government money misappropriated/mismanaged by foreign entities
  • U.S. corporations directly violating U.S law while conducting business outside of the U.S.

Obtain Legal Assistance

Individuals who have information concerning the payment of bribes to foreign officials in ANY nation are strongly advised to seek legal representation to determine whether they may qualify for a reward.  Those who wish to confidentially report violations of the FCPA may fill out an intake form to contact the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense & Education Fund (NWLDEF).  Click here to access the NWLDEF confidential report form.
The Fund is a public interest law firm that can provide legal representation or an attorney referral in appropriate situations. All communications with the Fund are deemed attorney client privileged to the fullest extent of U.S. law (NOTE: All requests must be sent in English).

International Conventions

Whistleblower protection is now recognized as part of international law. In 2003, the United Nations adopted the Convention Against Corruption. This convention was subsequently signed by 140 nations and formally ratified, accepted, approved, or acceded by 137 nations, including the United States. Article 32 and Article 33 of the UN Convention endorse protection for whistleblowers.

In 1999, the Council of Europe ratified its Civil Law Convention On Corruption. This Convention is binding legal authority on most European governments. A list of countries that have approved the convention is linked hereArticle 9 of this Convention explicitly requires, as part of their internal domestic law, that European governments provide “appropriate protection” for employee whistleblowers. The Convention Explanatory Report calls upon states to “protect’ and “encourage” whistleblowing.

NWC International Program

The National Whistleblower Center works regularly with journalists, free speech advocates, lawyers, and government officials from around the world, educating them about the value of whistleblower protections in a free society. Our staff members have conducted trainings, both at home and abroad, with interested delegations from countries including Japan, India, Moldova, Israel, England, Hungary, Montenegro, Croatia, China, Czech Republic, Kyrgyzstan, and the Philippines.

For example, in 2008, the NWC Executive Director was invited by the United States Embassy in Hungary to meet with government leaders, including the Minister of Justice, and non-governmental organizations in order to fully explain the integral role whistleblowers play in anti-corruption programs. In September 2009, the Executive Director made a similar visit to Montenegro. Representatives of the NWC have also spoken at international anti-corruption/whistleblower protection conferences and workshops in Tel Aviv, Israel; Prague, Czech Republic; and Seoul, South Korea. For information on the NWC’s international training program, please contact us.

Model Whistleblower Law

To assist other countries in drafting whistleblowers legislation the NWC has created a model whistleblower law. Please click here to view the revised model law.

Political Asylum

In 2000 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that whistleblowers who face persecution in their home countries might be entitled to political asylum in the United States. Numerous other U.S. courts have now adopted the holding.

International Organizations

Amnesty International
Corporate Accountability International
EU Monitoring & Advocacy Program – Reports on EU Anti-Corruption Policies (Program of the Open Society Institute)
Fair Labor Association
Institute for International Corporate Governance and Accountability
Integrity International
Inter-American Convention Against Corruption
International Anti-Corruption Conference
International Association of Whistleblowers
International Center for Corporate Accountability
International Freedom of Expression eXchange
International Labor Rights Forum
International Network for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights
Global Integrity (Independent information on governance and corruption)
Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption
OECD Directorate for Financial & Enterprise Affairs – Bribery in International Business
OECD Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe & Central Asia
Open Society Institute & Soros Foundations Network
Publish What You Pay (Global civil society coalition for government accountability)
Transparency International
United Nations (UN) Convention Against Corruption
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Worldwide Whistleblowers

Important Notice:

These Web site links are provided for informational purposes only.  The National Whistleblowers Center does not endorse any of the Web sites and does not guarantee the accuracy of their content. Furthermore, the NWC has not undertaken an independent evaluation of the laws referenced directly or indirectly by the Web sites linked on this page.  Before filing a claim, it is highly recommended that you contact an attorney.  If your claim concerns an American company, the Whistleblower Legal Assistance Program may be able to help you.

Please email if you have any organizations you would like to see added.

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