Danske Bank whistleblower Howard Wilkinson awarded Allard Prize

by Kait Pararas, Program Manager
Danske Bank whistleblower Howard Wilkinson awarded Allard Prize

October 22, 2020 – Yesterday, the Allard Prize for International Integrity named whistleblower Howard Wilkinson as the co-winner of its 2020 prize. The Allard Prize launched in 2012 to honor the contributions of individuals, movements, and organizations in the fight against corruption and the protection of human rights. It is awarded biennially and is one of the world’s largest anti-corruption prizes at $100,000.

This year, over 525 nominations from 80 countries were considered, with Wilkinson and Daphne Caruana Galizia announced as co-winners and the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala receiving a honorable mention.

Wilkinson is a former employee of Danske Bank who was working in the Baltic Trading Unit when he uncovered one of the largest money laundering schemes in history, with an estimated $234 billion dollars reportedly flowing from Russia and other former Soviet states, through Estonia and to major banks such as Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, and JP Morgan.

The resulting scandal led to investigations from numerous European law enforcement agencies as well as U.S. agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Justice. The scandal also forced Danske Bank to end operations in Estonia and led to the resignation of Danske Bank’s CEO.

Despite the risks to his personal safety, Wilkinson has testified before the Danish and European Parliaments in favor of greater whistleblower protections in Europe after his role in exposing the scheme was leaked by the press.

In a statement following the prize announcement, Wilkinson commented, “Whistleblowers play a very important role in exposing wrongdoing that is otherwise hard to detect. But all too often whistleblowers are made to suffer for what they have done. I am honored to receive the Allard Prize. It sends an important message that whistleblowing is important and that whistleblowers should be valued in building the sort of society we all want to live in.”

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