Swedish law permits 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?
In 2016, Sweden implemented a whistleblower protection law called The Whistleblower Act (SFS 2016:749). This act allows Swedish employees to report any suspected violation that could carry a penalty of imprisonment, or comparable irregularity. Therefore, Swedish whistleblowers may report violations such as corruption, economic crimes, violation of fundamental rights and freedoms, any risk to life/safety or health and the misuse of public funds of which they have a “concrete suspicion” and be protected from retaliation under this law.
However, this act has serious flaws that open whistleblowers up to retaliation. First, this act requires employees report internally before reporting to regulators, opening whistleblowers up to exposure and retaliation. Second, this act does not provide any guarantees of anonymity or confidentiality, discouraging whistleblowers. Third, the law states that “[a] worker who by reporting irregularities becomes guilty of an offence is not protected under this Act,” further discouraging whistleblowers who are unclear of the repercussions of their report from risking reporting. Fourth, under this law there is no set authority to which whistleblowers should report and no set authority designated to take up whistleblower retaliation cases. Finally, there are no reward provisions for successful whistleblowers in Swedish law and law enforcement.
Because of these flaws and the lack of a comprehensive whistleblower program in any government agency in Sweden whistleblowers may be better off reporting to U.S. regulators where possible, at least until the transposition of the Whistleblower Directive is complete.
Interestingly Sweden also has a law entitled the Freedom of Press Act, which may also be a better route for would-be whistleblowers depending on the fraud or crimes uncovered and the whistleblower’s motivation in reporting. This act gives Swedes the right to send information to the media (except for official secrets and national security information) and protects anonymous sources, blocking the government from trying to learn such whistleblower’s identities.
Can Swedish whistleblowers receive rewards?
There is no law in Sweden providing whistleblowers rewards, however, they may receive rewards through U.S. laws.
Recent updates and future legislative developments
Sweden is currently in the process of transposing the EU Whistleblower Directive. It created an “Inquiry on the Swedish transposition of the Directive,” which began working on May 29, 2019 and 29 June 29, 2020 delivered an 802 page long report containing a proposal for a new Act on reporting of wrongdoings. Then, the government opened up a public comment period for the Act proposed in the report, which closed on October 16, 2020. Given the protections already in place and the public call for input from civil society, whistleblower advocates are cautiously optimistic that the Act will fix some of the failings of Sweden’s current whistleblower law, which is largely considered to be ineffective.
Can/should Swedish whistleblowers report to U.S. officials?
No law in Sweden currently prohibits Swedish citizens 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. Therefore, Austrian whistleblowers can and should report relevant violations to U.S. officials under these laws.