On 12 September 2012, the United States Internal Revenue Service awarded US$104 million to a whistleblower who provided information on how UBS AG, a Swiss bank, allegedly helped US citizens hide billions of dollars from the US tax authorities. UBS was fined US$780 million.
In the fight against corruption, whistleblowers play an important and sometimes dangerous role. In this case, the whistleblower went to prison for some of the crimes that he had committed while at UBS, but he was also rewarded for stepping forward with information that allowed the authorities to stop the systematic tax evasion allegedly facilitated illegally by the bank.
We hope that this story encourages more people to step forward and stop corruption, particularly in jurisdictions where there is strong whistleblower protection.
Encouraging whistleblowers to come forward
Transparency International is currently engaged in a wide range of advocacy, public awareness and research activities in all regions of the world. Through our Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres, located in nearly 50 countries, we advise whistleblowers in making their disclosures and work to make sure that their disclosures are duly addressed by appropriate authorities.
We work closely with advocacy groups, legal experts and whistleblowers toward enhancing whistleblower protections and rights because we know that in many places it is not an easy choice to step forward. For example, Sergei Magnistky, who was put in jail in Russia by the people he accused of fraud, died there because he did not receive proper medical treatment. And this year in India, a civil servant who uncovered fraudulent land deals in Karnataka was later found murdered.
Here are some highlights of our work with links to our latest reports and research:
- October 2009: Transparency International released a Resolution on the Protection of Whistleblowers
- November 2009: Transparency International released the report “Alternative to Silence”, which assesses whistleblower laws in 10 European Union countries
- November 2009: Transparency International released draft international principles for whistleblower legislation
- June 2010: The National Network for the Right of Access to Information, of which our Lebanon chapter is a member, submitted a draft law on whistleblower protection to Parliament
- December 2010: Jamaica passed a whistleblower protection law based largely on Transparency International’s international best practices
- September 2011: Transparency International and eight whistleblower advocacy organisations urged G20 countries to implement comprehensive whistleblower legislation
- April 2012: Transparency International launched a public consultation on international best practices for whistleblower protection laws
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