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 filed a public comment urging Latvia 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, passed this year.
Based on an expert review by Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto attorneys, the recommendations include:
- Creating channels for reports directly to regulators (rather than internally where the data presented may be corrupted);
- 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);
- Creating whistleblower reward laws to incentivize high quality tips in order to successfully 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.
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 Latvia 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.
“Latvia has the ability to build upon its 2019 whistleblower law and provide incentives whistleblowers to risk their careers by reporting violations of law. Whistleblowers are the key detecting frauds. They must be fully protected,” said Stephen M. Kohn, a partner in the whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, LLP.
Since the passage of its whistleblower law in 2019, Latvia has reported hundreds of whistleblower submissions to relevant authorities, although only 75% were fruitful. The EU transposition therefore comes at an ideal time for Latvia—it will allow lawmakers to examine what has and has not worked in their new law, which clearly has substantial support from its citizens.