Romania is poised to become a model for other European countries in the adoption of the EU Whistleblower Directive. Romania is the first EU country to propose whistleblower legislation that fully incorporates recommendations for whistleblower protection and rewards submitted by the National Whistleblower Center (NWC). This proposed legislation, as well as the future of whistleblowing in Romania, will be the focus of the 18th edition of Romania’s Tax, Law & Lobby Conference, being held virtually on April 20.
On April 16, it was announced that U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a longtime champion of whistleblower protections, will give remarks at the conference. Grassley is the Chairman of the Senate’s Whistleblower Caucus and has played a key role in bipartisan efforts to protect whistleblowers and defend qui tam reward programs.
“Senator Grassley is one of whistleblowers’ most ardent defenders,” said Stephen M. Kohn, NWC’s Chairman of the Board and a whistleblower attorney at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto. “With years of experience advancing whistleblower protections in the U.S. Senate, Senator Grassley is uniquely positioned to speak to the critical importance of whistleblower protections and rewards and will provide key insights into how to push those policies forward.”
Kohn will also be giving a keynote speech at the conference and appearing on a panel entitled “Whistleblowing for Change: How Society Wins When Citizens Report Corruption.” The panel will also feature UBS bank whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld, Professor of Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics Giancarlo Spagnolo, and two Whistleblower Network News contributors: Mark Worth, the Executive Director of Whistleblowing International, and Jane Turner, FBI whistleblower.
Other panels at the conference include “Financial Rewards for Whistleblowers: Evidences, Arguments and Alternatives” and “Implementing Proper Whistleblowing Programs in the Private & Public Sectors.” Additional keynote speeches will be delivered by Stelian Ion, Romania’s Minister of Justice, and Sebastian Burduja, Member of the Romanian Parliament. Parliament and the Ministry of Justice are both of particular importance to whistleblower legislation because the bodies are responsible for writing and interpreting the laws respectively.
Members of different political parties, Ion and Burduja were key figures in proposing the new whistleblower legislation and are working together to ensure its passage. Both Ion and Burduja worked closely with whistleblower advocates from around the globe, including NWC, to craft legislation incorporating leading whistleblower research and expert opinion.
The EU Whistleblower Directive requires that all EU member states pass whistleblower legislation by the end of the year which is in accord with the mandates of the directive. Whistleblower advocates have argued that countries should use this as an opportunity to pass whistleblower laws which are even stronger and more comprehensive than those mandated by the Directive. Thus, in July 2018, NWC sent a letter containing detailed recommendations for whistleblower legislation to the then presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament. Romania is the first country to propose legislation which fully incorporates these suggestions and whistleblower advocates are hopeful that other nations will follow Romania’s lead.
“At the moment, Romania’s whistleblower legislation is in great need of improvement,” said Burduja. “Because we are required to transpose this European Directive, we decided to work on a comprehensive form, which includes mechanisms to ensure the protection of whistleblowers, rewards as a proportion of recovered damages, and the development of an online platform that ensures the possibility for whistleblowers to anonymously and securely report violations to competent authorities. Our proposal is the result of several months of consultations, research, and intensive study of global best practices.”
To register for the 2021 Tax, Law & Lobby Conference, click here.