Russia, France Considering Whistleblower Laws

France and Russia are both considering legislative action on whistleblower issues. A number of foreign countries have examined whether awards and anti-retaliation protections are appropriate following the passage of some prominent protections in the United States. However, there hasn’t been nearly enough action to date to protect international whistleblowers.

Russia is considering whistleblower rewards of up to 3 million rubles ($50,000) for government officials reporting corruption, according to FCPA Blog last week. The change is one of the amendments to Russia’s anti-bribery law under consideration by the State Duma.

The proposal made by the Ministry of Labor provides for an award of up to 15% of the impact of the bribery on the state budget. It does not extend the offer to individuals who are not employed by the Russian government.

However, the Securities & Exchange Commission in the United States will pay rewards on international misconduct reported by individuals outside of the government when they are reported to the US pursuant to the rules set forth in Dodd-Frank and the SEC whistleblower program. The bribery must involve a U.S. corporation, a U.S. issuer (trading on a U.S. stock exchange), a U.S. citizen or a part of the illegal conduct must take place in the United States (such as the money transfer for the bribe). These and other conditions for violations of the United States anti-bribery law are set forth in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The National Assembly in France has also added an amendment to a surveillance bill French lawmakers are considering. The Snowden amendment, as it has come to be known, would permit intelligence whistleblowers to report abuses through a process that would result in review by prosecutors for potential violations of the law by government officials. The law would prohibit punishment or discrimination against officials following the procedure established by the law. It does not allow individuals to report the information to the media, however.

The French government opposes the amendment. The bill is expected to be further debated in early May.

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