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« Covert video investigates land abuse in Malaysia | Main | Job: Assistant Vice President of Compliance »
Friday
Mar222013

The perils of blowing the whistle

The FCPA Blog recently covered the plight of whistleblower and former U.N. diplomat James Wasserstrom, who was forced from his job after cooperating with an internal investigation of corruption by U.N. officials.

Wasserstrom’s experience is not an isolated one. The suspicious death of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky while in police custody resulted in no convictions and the investigation has been officially closed. The Kremlin said there was no proof of criminal wrongdoing. Magnitsky's story is a human tragedy with far-reaching foreign policy implications.

The passage of Dodd-Frank in 2010 came with whistleblower provisions that gave new protections and rewards for revealing corporate misconduct to federal authorities. Outside the U.S., however, whistleblowers often remain at risk. For example, political strife in Australia continues over the merits of the Public Interest Disclosure Bill that would protect civil servants who complain about government malfeasance and waste.

A former compliance officer with Siemens China was placed on administrative leave after exposing evidence of an alleged kickback scheme and dismissed three months later. He is currently seeking unspecified damages through a retaliation complaint in federal court in Manhattan.

The lack of meaningful whistleblower protections remains a significant public policy issue in much of the world. Without such protections, stories like those of James Wasserstrom, Sergei Magnitsky and others will continue to appear in the headlines.

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Andrew Reichardt is an editorial intern for the FCPA Blog.

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