Whistleblower Attorney Delivers Remarks at Romanian White Collar Crime Conference
On March 1, whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn virtually delivered the opening remarks at the 5th Annual Romanian White Collar Crime & Corporate Fraud Conference. The conference, hosted by Romanian media channel Govnet, featured speakers from Romania’s legal field specializing in anti-corruption and corporate compliance.
“As companies see the benefits of taking a proactive approach to fraud risk management, the focus on implementing anti fraud compliance programmes can ensure that appropriate resources are committed to risk management and an organisation’s focus remains on the areas where fraud could surface,” the event hosts said. “Proactively addressing fraud will remain critical for organisations to address the impacts fraud could have on commercial activities.”
Kohn discussed the developments of white-collar crime whistleblowing since the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Improvement Act in December of 2022. Emphasizing the transnationality of the major U.S. whistleblower laws, Kohn outlined the protective provisions of confidentiality and anonymity and the minimum reward guarantees included in these laws, garnering hope for the future of anti-corruption efforts.
A transcript of the full remarks can be found below:
Hi, I’m Steve Kohn, Chairman of the Board of the National Whistleblower Center and a partner in the whistleblower rights law firm of Kohn, Kohn, and Colapinto joining you here from the United States. First, welcome, and thank you for permitting me the opportunity to speak here today.
There is actually good news in the world of anti-corruption and the transnational fight against fraud, bribery, money laundering, and other forms of abuses that have harmed development and ripped off citizens worldwide, often for years without any accountability. There’s some good news. In December 2022, the United States passed the Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower [Improvement] Act, and for the first time, there is a transnational anti-money laundering law open for business. Anonymous filing, guarantees of confidentiality, and rewards of 10 to 30% of the sanctions. It covers the Bank Secrecy Act. It covers violations of U.S. sanctions, including sanctions against Russia. But it goes to the heart of the international banking system and has the broadest anti-corruption transnational coverage of any law ever passed. It was the war in Russia that triggered this passage. But ultimately, it’s the war against corruption that will see it through till the end.
This law follows other transnational whistleblower laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Commodity Exchange Act, that targets market manipulation in international commodities trading, and that’s a big deal, because commodities come from the developing world. You’re talking mining, timber, oil. It covers securities fraud, illegal offshore banking, and Bank Secrecy Act violations. All of these frauds and acts of corruption are covered under U.S. whistleblower laws and have a transnational scope. What does transnational mean? It means the violations can occur outside the United States. The whistleblowers can be non-U.S. citizens, and the companies that are involved often aren’t directly U.S. For example, companies that trade commodities on the worldwide market, or companies that trade stocks on the Paris stock exchange or the Hong Kong stock exchange. This scope is very broad. The laws are very good. Well over $100 million, way more probably, has been paid to whistleblowers who are non-U.S. citizens. So what does this mean for the international fight against corruption? It means first, if you can get yourself covered under an effective U.S. law, do it. Second, we have the blueprint for laws that other countries can enact, to duplicate the best practices and to create truly effective whistleblower and anti-corruption laws.
Third, and this is highly significant, the right of anonymity and confidentiality which exists in the U.S. laws can easily be followed in other countries, because if the wrongdoer or the fraudster or the corrupt official doesn’t know who the whistleblower is, that is the best way to stay safe.
So in conclusion, there are growing options in the war against corruption, and I’m so happy that you invited me here to this conference today to outline some of these approaches. Good luck. Let’s get this job done. Thank you.
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