WASHINGTON, D.C. | December 9, 2021 — To commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day, National Whistleblower Center (NWC) would like to share the remarks of our Executive Director, Siri Nelson, at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s December 7 Summit for Democracy event All Hands on Deck: Innovating Together to Combat Transnational Corruption. These remarks were presented to a group of anti-corruption advocates from around the world and opened the impressive event which featured speakers including USAID Administrator Power, International Development Ministers from Sweden and Norway, and many other changemakers.
Whistleblowers Change the World. At NWC we have forged innovative ways to use existing US whistleblower protection laws to empower well-placed “insiders” to safely and effectively report corruption all over the globe.
In our prize-winning presentation at the USAID Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, our Chairman, Stephen Kohn, explained that we are in a war to fight the corruption schemes that undermine the rule of law, and threaten our environment, democratic institutions and economic development. And, whistleblowers are the front line in fighting that war. This has been empirically proven. Laws that incentivize the confidential reporting of corruption are among the most powerful weapons at our disposal.
Reward programs incentivize whistleblowers to come forward. These incentives – when widely publicized, effectively enforced, and transnationally adopted can mobilize whistleblowers in every sector and help us understand stronger approaches to anti-corruption efforts and fighting the disastrous impacts of bribery, money laundering, trafficking, and the illegal destruction of the environment. Whistleblowers, insiders with otherwise difficult to detect information about crimes, are a lynchpin to successful law enforcement.
We encountered three problems in generating our proposal for the wildlife crime tech challenge (1) whistleblowers were not aware of their rights (2) whistleblowers lacked effective representation and (3) there was a lack of institutional buy-in that would allow whistleblower programs to become pervasive and accessible to all who have information about wrongdoing.
To connect with non-US whistleblowers NWC mounted an in-depth multimedia campaign highlighting the amazing ways in which US whistleblower protection laws could be used to reward, and provide refuge, to whistleblowers around the world. By making our approach to the highly successful Securities and Exchange Commission, IRS, and False Claims Act whistleblower provisions widely known, we assisted incredibly powerful whistleblowers to come forward about wildlife crimes outside of the United States and the American beneficiaries of those crimes that had previously operated unimpeded.
Whistleblowers have shut down major international criminal operations, stopped the illegal exploitation of wildlife and environmental resources and slowed the flow of illicit funds. These cases yielded billions in sanctions and have drawn the widespread support of the prosecutors who work directly with the whistleblowers, and international organizations such as the OECD.
By presenting at the TNRC seminar on wildlife anti-corruption efforts, participating in the IUCN World Conservation Congress, and working with colleagues at the World Wildlife Fund, we were able to help leaders in global anti-corruption and climate protection efforts to adopt whistleblower protection commitments – bolstering the power of this army of anti-corruption soldiers.
Our victories in the crime tech challenge show how the successful use of existing whistleblower protections changes industries and set the stage for further anti-corruption efforts.
Whistleblowing has a ripple effect, and together we can help even the most marginalized worker in the developing world become part of the army fighting corruption and protecting our democracies. Thank you.
NWC will continue to actively participate in developing strategies to put whistleblowers at the forefront of the fight against transnational corruption. On November 15, 2021, NWC submitted a letter to Administrator Power on how whistleblowers are the key to fighting corruption, and will continue to make similar comments to federal agencies and the President as the Biden Administration’s Strategy to Counter Corruption is implemented.
Siri Nelson is available for comment. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.