Whistleblowers should be protected for playing a vital role in exposing bribery that threatens the international response to the coronavirus pandemic, says the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in an important acknowledgement of whistleblowers’ value.
The OECD’s Working Group on Bribery said in a statement last month that whistleblower protection is a critical component of preventing bribery involving supplies and drugs necessary for fighting the impact of COVID-19.
Foreign bribery and fraud have already taken a toll on the health industry’s response to the crisis globally. Bribery and fraud divert limited and important resources from their best intended uses, wasting money and time and putting valuable medical equipment, protective gear and medicines out of reach.
“Corruption poses a major challenge to tackling this global health crisis,” said Drago Kos, chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, in a statement. “It is vital that countries remain actively engaged in anti-corruption efforts and work together to ensure their efforts to overcome this crisis are not weakened by corruption.”
US enforcement agencies are actively seeking information about fraud and corruption stemming from the anxiety, desperation and chaos caused by the pandemic. Corruption wastes resources and ultimately endangers public health by slowing a concerted response to the health crisis and forcing the health sector to rely on possibly substandard equipment and supplies when facing scarcity.
Company insiders are well positioned to expose bribery, fraud and corruption, and can provide valuable information and insights for regulators and enforcement agencies.
The OECD’s assertion that whistleblowers require effective protection recognizes that whistleblowers are vital and that blowing the whistle can have significant risks.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program can be an effective way to stop fraud and violations of the US anti-bribery law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The SEC offers FCPA whistleblowers confidentiality as well as rewards ranging from 10 percent to 30 percent of the amount government authorities collect as a result of the whistleblower’s information.
If you are aware of bribery or fraud related to the ongoing covid-19 health crisis, please contact our attorneys for a free, confidential consultation about your potential case.
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