23 June 2023. Each year on June 23rd, global whistleblower advocates commemorate World Whistleblower Day, a day dedicated to highlighting the contributions of whistleblowers in uncovering fraud and corruption. This day is particularly important to Europe, the United Kingdom, and other countries abroad, where numerous international foundations stress the significance of whistleblowers. While the United States has its own whistleblower laws such as the False Claims Act, other countries have different laws and regulations to protect whistleblowers. As we celebrate this day, it is important to recognize the role of whistleblowers in achieving corporate transparency, accountability, and integrity, and to encourage more people to step forward when they witness wrongdoing.
The concept of qui tam, from the Latin phrase “he who brings the action for the king as well as for himself,” originated in medieval England. Qui tam lawsuits enable whistleblowers or relators to report fraud against the government while also receiving a reward. In this way, whistleblowers can aid in protecting taxpayers’ interests and the public fisc, while also benefiting themselves. Through such lawsuits, whistleblowers are given the chance to hold fraudulent actors accountable for their actions and make them pay back ill-gotten gains.
Whistleblowers can come from all walks of life. Anyone with knowledge of fraud taking place in sectors such as healthcare, finance, government contracts, logistics, government grants, and more can be a whistleblower. They are not just people with integrity; they are people who have the courage to stand up for what is right, and to take the necessary action to expose wrongdoing. It takes great courage for whistleblowers to speak up, as they may face retaliation, termination, or other forms of harassment. This is where whistleblower protection laws come in, to ensure that they are not punished for doing the right thing.
Other countries besides the United States also have laws that protect whistleblowers and reward them for reporting fraud. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1998 (PIDA) sets forth guidelines for reporting corruption and fraud while also protecting whistleblowers from retaliation and other harm. In France, the Sapin II Law protects whistleblowers reporting corruption, while Italy is passing legislation to implement the EU’s whistleblowing directive this year. These laws demonstrate that many countries recognize the power of whistleblowers to help prevent fraud. By having these legal protections in place, whistleblowers have more confidence that their confidential disclosures, reputations, and livelihoods are safe if they speak up.
World Whistleblower Day serves as an important reminder that whistleblowers are essential to combating fraud and corruption. These individuals may risk their careers, reputation, or safety to expose fraudulent activities and work towards transparency, accountability, and integrity. Compensating them financially for successful recoveries is the right thing to do. Legislation in many countries provides whistleblowers with the protection and incentives they need to come forward, and these laws play a vital role in facilitating the reporting of fraudulent activity. While we pause to celebrate this day, it is important to remember that whistleblowers should be honored and defended year-round, and we must continue to advocate for stronger protections for these individuals with integrity and high morals. So, let us celebrate the World Whistleblower Day by recognizing the importance of whistleblowers and renew our commitment to supporting and protecting them.
If you would like to report healthcare, financial, or government contracts fraud, you can contact attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP. Eva Gunasekera and Renée Brooker are former officials of the United States Department of Justice and prosecuted whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act. Renée served as Assistant Director at the United States Department of Justice, the office that supervises False Claims Act cases in all 94 United States District Courts. Eva was the Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud. Eva and Renée now represent whistleblowers. For a free consultation, you can contact Renée at [email protected] (tel.: 202-417-3664) or contact Eva Gunasekera at [email protected]. You can also go to Tycko & Zavareei LLP’s website for whistleblowers to learn more at www.fraudfighters.net.