German law permits its citizens to report frauds against the U.S. Government under the False Claims Act, or violations of the provisions of the Securities & Exchange Act, Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, or Commodities Exchange Act.
What disclosures are currently protected?
Germany has no overarching law protecting whistleblowers and although the current labor law allows private whistleblowers to report dangers to health or safety (including crimes) in the workplace theoretically without retaliation, whistleblowers must report their suspicions internally before going to authorities. Furthermore, a whistleblower may still be faced with employment retribution if his or her suspicion turns out to be unfounded because the burden of proof in retaliation cases rests with the whistleblower.
Additionally, there are no reward provisions for successful whistleblowers in German law and there is no comprehensive German whistleblower program. Therefore, whistleblowers may be better off reporting to U.S. regulators where possible, at least until the transposition of the Whistleblower Directive is complete.
Laws that may contain helpful whistleblower provisions include the following, although they will typically be limited in terms of what subject matter falls within their scope:
- The Federal Civil Service Act
- The Law on the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority
- The German Data Protection Act
Can German whistleblowers receive rewards?
There is no law in Germany providing whistleblowers rewards, however, they may receive rewards through U.S. laws
Recent updates and future legislative developments
Germany is currently in the process of transposing the EU Whistleblowing Directive, however, whistleblower advocates have widely criticized the broad proposals put forward from the German government thus far.
Can/should German whistleblowers report to U.S. officials?
No law in Germany currently prohibits Germans from reporting frauds against the U.S. government under the False Claims Act, or violations of provisions of other statutes including the Securities & Exchange Act, Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, or Commodities Exchange Act, although whistleblowers should make sure to comply with data protection and privacy rules in Germany and proceed with caution. Therefore, German whistleblowers can, and should, report to U.S. officials if they are able. Indeed, last year along German citizens provided information to US authorities in at least 44 whistleblower cases.