Sun. May 19th, 2024

By Justin Smulison – March 3, 2024

Every year is unique for the National Whistleblower Center (NWC). Between representing brave people who speak truth to power, navigating a complex legal landscape, and advocating for a stronger national and international protections for whistleblowers, wheels are always turning.

NWC had several achievements in 2023, in and out of the courtroom. Additionally, NWC celebrated the 10th annual anniversary of National Whistleblower Day. This Sunday Read highlights standout moments and achievements in 2023, as chronicled in our annual report.

Setting The Tone

Last year started on the right note, when one of the most wide-ranging advancements in the area of whistleblower law arrived just prior to New Year’s Day. On December 29, 2022 President Biden signed into law the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023.” With the spending package enacted, the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Whistleblower Improvement Act passed, strengthening the protections for individuals blowing the whistle on money laundering and sanctions violations.

As previously reported, one of the Act’s key provisions ensures that:

  • Whistleblower awards will no longer be discretionary. Qualified whistleblowers will receive awards of “not less than 10%” of the sanctions collected in the relevant enforcement action.
  • A fund will be established to pay AML whistleblower awards, financed completely by sanctions collected in whistleblower-assisted cases and not by taxpayers.
  • Coverage extends to whistleblowers who disclose violations of U.S. sanctions, a major milestone for U.S. law. Examples of sanctions include those imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

NWC was actively involved in the passage of AML and remains grateful to our active supporters, as these vulnerable whistleblowers now have an effective avenue for reporting.

Going Global at CoSP 10

NWC has grown into one of the most influential whistleblower advocacy groups in the world. In December 2023, the three-person NWC delegation had the privilege of attending and addressing the 10th Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (or CoSP10 to the UNCAC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

From December 11 to December 15, 2023, NWC had the opportunity to engage with 3,000 people, including 2,000 government representatives from 160 countries and more than 900 civil society organizations, along with private sector professionals at the world’s largest global anti-corruption gathering.

As one of two organizations submitting statements on whistleblowing, NWC helped ensure that whistleblowing was a priority.

The CoSP Whistleblower Resolution (CAC/COSP/2023/Rev.1) addresses the crucial issue of safeguarding individuals who expose or report corruption and related offenses to competent authorities. Make no mistake — protection is a cornerstone of whistleblower practice.

But financial incentives are missing from the resolution and NWC will continue to advocate for such measures, donor support is necessary for ensuring NWC has the ability to continue convincing foreign governments and cultures to change their approach to whistleblower protections via confidentiality and monetary rewards will undoubtedly be an uphill battle.

“This is a cause we champion year-round and will continue leading up to the 11th CoSP event in 2025,” Nelson said.

Expanding Virtual Presence

NWC’s digital presence continues to grow, especially across social media sites, some of which grew by more than 50% from 2022.

A quick breakdown of followers on the leading platforms:

  • Facebook/Meta: 12,528
  • Twitter/X: 7,732
  • LinkedIn: 2,347
  • Instagram: 316

“Our supporters create a robust, global community that is critical to whistleblower protection,” Nelson said. “Their online engagement is key to building awareness about the whistleblowers and the incredible contributions they make.”

National Whistleblower Day: 10th Anniversary Celebration

NWC hosted the 10th annual National Whistleblower Day in Washington, D.C. on July 27. The day-long event was the first held in-person since 2019 and honored the contributions of whistleblowers around the world who have bravely stepped forward to expose waste, fraud, and abuse.

More than 100 attendees, experts, legislators, and whistleblowers convened on Capitol Hill and at NWC’s office in Georgetown to discuss accomplishments, updates, and share strategies on building effective claims.

“There’s no middle ground when it comes to whistleblowers,” said Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who delivered an address at the July event. A strong ally of the NWC, Sen. Grassley recently reintroduced a bipartisan resolution to designate July 30th as a federally observed “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day” for the tenth consecutive year. 

“They must be protected and fought for,” the Senator added. “Full stop.”

Hot Off The Presses

A critical publication was released in 2023 that is sure to benefit whistleblowers of all types. Rules for Whistleblowers: A Handbook for Doing What’s Right, was authored by NWC Founder and Chairman of the Board Stephen M. Kohn and published by Lyons Press.

The book provides a thorough guide into the scenarios, laws, consequences, and rewards that whistleblowers should consider before coming forward. It is also an invaluable resource that helps discern the type of lawyer needed for a claim. Its release was celebrated at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C.

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