Congress is close to approving long-awaited reforms to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Whistleblower Program. On December 7, the Senate voted 100-0 to pass the bipartisan AML Whistleblower Improvement Act, which addresses loopholes in the AML Whistleblower Program and expands the program to cover sanctions whistleblowing. A House version of the bill was previously unanimously approved by the House Committee on Financial Services.
“Given the expansive sanctions we’ve implemented on Russia as they wage an unjust war in Ukraine, our legislation is urgently needed to hold bad actors accountable,” said Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who cosponsored the bill alongside Senators Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“The whistleblower programs I’ve helped create have seen roaring success, with the False Claims Act saving taxpayers $70 billion, the SEC whistleblower program saving over $4.8 billion and the IRS whistleblower program saving over $6 billion,” Grassley stated. “I’m optimistic that our new program encouraging individuals to come forward for suspected sanctions violations will be successful as well.”
“The bipartisan, bicameral proposal expands on an anti-money laundering whistleblower program by adding support for whistleblowers who report violations of U.S. sanction laws, providing a funding mechanism to pay whistleblower awards and guaranteeing that whistleblowers will be paid a minimum award amount,” Grassley added.
“Senator Grassley says it all. We now need the House to immediately pass this essential legislation to empower whistleblowers to expose violations of Russian sanctions and money laundering,” remarked leading whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto.
The AML Whistleblower Improvement Act fixes two loopholes which have undermined the success of the AML Whistleblower Program. The bill would institute a statutory minimum award for qualified whistleblowers and establish a fund to pay whistleblower awards which is entirely financed by sanctions collected through the whistleblower program. Both of these reforms are based on provisions found in the Dodd-Frank Act, the law which established the immensely successful SEC Whistleblower Program.
Furthermore, the AML Whistleblower Improvement Act expands the reach of the AML Whistleblower Program to cover whistleblowers who disclose violations of U.S. sanctions such as those imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Currently, no U.S. whistleblower law covers sanctions whistleblowing.
Grassley notes that “the bill is endorsed by the National Whistleblower Center, Taxpayers Against Fraud, the Government Accountability Project, the Project on Government Oversight and Transparency International.”
The National Whistleblower Center is calling on whistleblower supporters to contact Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and urge her to support the AML Whistleblower Improvement Act. Her sign-off is needed for the bill to proceed to a House vote.
Representative DeLauro’s office can be reached at (202) 225-3661 and the House Committee on Appropriations at (202) 225-2771.