World May 29, 2015 | 11:57 am

National Whistleblower Center statement on FIFA bribery scandal

Washington, D.C.- Stephen M. Kohn, the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, issued the following statement today regarding the role of whistleblowers in the FIFA bribery scandal:

“Yesterday the world was shocked by well documented revelations of widespread corruption and bribery within FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association. According to press accounts, an “insider” within FIRA provided key evidence used by the United States in securing the indictments and some of the convictions that were publicly announced.”

“As the FIFA case demonstrates, many U.S. anti-bribery and corruption laws have worldwide application. What is less well known is that non-U.S. citizens have the right to confidentially or anonymously blow the whistle under most of these laws, and fully qualify for large monetary rewards. “

“These new and powerful whistleblower laws can apply even if the bribes or tax violations occurred in foreign countries, and involved non-U.S. persons. Since 2014, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act the U.S. government has already paid out over $30 million U.S. dollars to whistleblowers who reported violations in foreign countries and who are non-U.S. citizens. Additionally, over 1000 foreign nationals have already taken advantage of the U.S. reward programs and have filed fraud claims.”

“In making one such award the SEC’s Whistleblower Office issued the following statement: ‘In issuing [a $30 million] award, the Commission specifically noted that allowing foreign nationals to receive awards under the program best effectuates the clear Congressional purposes underlying the award program.’”

“It is unclear what role whistleblowers played in uncovering and documenting the current FIFA scandal, but it is clear that an insider/former employee of FIFA who cooperated with the Justice Department’s investigation provided key evidence necessary for the government to prosecute its case.”

“What is clear is that international whistleblowers should come forward as early as possible, and voluntarily provide the U.S. government with information about bribery, tax frauds and other crimes. To qualify as a whistleblower under the rewards program U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike must provide the government with “original information,” on a voluntary basis.”

“For example, when Mr. Bradley Birkenfeld came forward and exposed the illegal tax frauds committed by UBS bank, he did so voluntarily, and before the government knew the facts for which he exposed. Although as a Swiss banker Mr. Birkenfeld had participated in some of the violations at issue, because he voluntarily stepped forward, he was eligible for a large whistleblower reward.”

“International whistleblowers need to take full advantage of the U.S. rewards program. It is a mistake to wait and delay reporting.”

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