Today, the international whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP along with the National Whistleblower Center, Whistleblowing International, and the European Center for Whistleblower Rights continued its campaign to assist lawmakers in Europe to adopt specific proven protections for whistleblowers in any new legislation to be created to fulfill the requirements of the Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the Protection of Persons who report Breaches of Union Law, submitting a memorandum of best practices to government officials in Finland.
“Finland has the opportunity to modernize its anti-corruption laws and incentive whistleblowers to risk their careers by reporting violations of law. Whistleblowers are a key part of government transparency and accountability and they must be fully protected,” said Stephen M. Kohn, a partner in the whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP.
Because the Directive sets forth the “common minimum standards” for whistleblower protection required by each European Union (“EU”) Member State, the Directive permits Member States, such as Finland, to extend protections beyond these minimum standards. When implementing the Directive each Member State has an opportunity to create robust whistleblower programs that protect whistleblowers, incentivize the reporting of crimes or regulatory violations, and enable law enforcement agencies to effectively combat corruption.
Although traditionally Finland has a decent record of supporting whistleblowers, even suspending investigations where necessary to protect whistleblowers, it is lacking a comprehensive whistleblower law. Therefore, in accordance with Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP’s recommendations, Finland should focus on harmonizing its current legal scheme with the new proposed whistleblower law, incentivizing credible whistleblowers to come forward, and creating clear rules for whistleblower disclosures.
Based on an expert review by Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto attorneys, specific recommendations for new whistleblower legislation include:
- Expanding whistleblower protections to cover disclosures permitted under international anti-corruption treaties signed by Member States;
- Narrowly interpreting a provision in the Directive that could result in retaliation against whistleblowers (Article 22);
- Enacting whistleblower reward laws to combat financial frauds, money laundering, foreign bribery, ocean pollution tax evasion and other crimes; and
- Adopting language and procedures that have proven effective in protecting whistleblowers when implementing Articles 6-7, 11, 14-16, 19-21, and 23-24 of the Directive.