Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto has been in the forefront of litigating for qui tam whistleblower rewards and urging Congress to improve whistleblower reward laws. KKC obtained the largest whistleblower reward ever to an individual — $104 million – paid to Bradley Birkenfeld by the IRS Whistleblower Office, for his assistance in ending the Swiss banking giant UBS’s illegal offshore accounting practice. As the top whistleblower law firm in the U.S., KKC is committed to working with Congress to ensure effective whistleblower laws are passed.

As part of this commitment to develop new areas of qui tam whistleblower reward laws, KKC is taking a lead role to ensure the passage of an extremely important bill that will create a qui tam reward law aimed at ending illegal wildlife trafficking, the Wildlife Conservation & Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018. 

The illegal wildlife trade (including plants, fish and animals) is estimated at 7–23 billion USD per year and environmental crime is now estimated to be 91–258 billion USD (2016) annually from illegal logging, deforestation, and a large portion of illegal fishing along with traditional wildlife trafficking in ivory, rhino horn and other endangered species.

The proposed bill incorporates most of the recommendations from an insightful Environmental Law Review Article, “Monetary Rewards for Wildlife Whistleblowers: A Game-Changer in Wildlife Trafficking Detection and Deterrence,” by KKC Partner Stephen M. Kohn. Kohn’s article, which highlighted the need for a qui tam law to fight wildlife trafficking. This award-winning article was used as a resource by the Natural Resources Committee to draft this historic new law. 

This groundbreaking bi-partisan bill was introduced by the leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee, by Rep. Don Young (R- Alaska), Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives and Chairman Emeritus and Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), a senior democratic member of the Committee.

This revolutionary legislation will bring together crucial resources to fight illegal wildlife trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, whistleblowers and federal racketeering and anti-organized crime statutes. Combining these valuable tools will increase the detection and prosecution of poachers, traffickers, and the those involved in the global trade in illegal wildlife and seafood products. It will also provide dedicated funding for wildlife, marine mammal, and shark conservation at no expense to American taxpayers.

If passed this law will: 

  • Enhance Detection: The proposed law enhances the detection of illegal wildlife trafficking by incentivizing citizens around the world to confidentially and anonymously report wildlife crimes. The legislation provides successful wildlife crime whistleblowers an award of 15-50 percent of the amounts received from fines and penalties from successful prosecutions.
  • Enhance Enforcement: The new law will make wildlife trafficking a predicate offense under the under federal racketeering and anti-organized crime statutes (RICO and Travel Acts).
  • Grant Restitution: All fines and penalties from successful prosecutions and settlements will be used for wildlife conservation efforts worldwide.

The partners of KKC work closely with the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) on a pro bono basis to help advance this law. KKC urges all whistleblower advocates to support the NWC’s grassroots advocacy which is essential to get this law signed into law. The NWC issued an action alert urging Congress to immediately pass this legislation into law. Please follow this link to take action: Demand Congress to pass the Wildlife Conservation & Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018

Stephen M. Kohn, in his role as executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, made the video below to promote the passage of this landmark legislation.

Important links:

Text of Wildlife Conservation & Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018 and Bill Summary

Urge Your Representatives to Support Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Legislation!

Combating Wildlife Trafficking: Opportunities Exist to Improve the Use of Financial RewardsK