Oil Whistleblower Jonathan Taylor Approved to Return Home from Croatia 

View of Fort Lovrijenac from Dubrovnik, Croatia, blue sky in background

Jonathan Taylor, a whistleblower who was arrested in July 2020 while on a family holiday in Croatia, will be allowed to return home to the United Kingdom, according to a July 8 BBC article.

For nine years, Taylor worked as a lawyer in Monaco for SBM Offshore, a Dutch multinational oil company. In 2012, he blew the whistle on corruption at the company and provided “evidence about bribes being offered to government officials in return for lucrative contracts,” a previous BBC article states. As a result of Taylor’s whistleblowing, “SBM Offshore eventually agreed to a then-record $240m (£186m) settlement with the Dutch authorities.” The case also had ramifications in the U.S. In November 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that SBM Offshore and “its wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, SBM Offshore USA Inc. (SBM USA), have agreed to resolve criminal charges and pay a criminal penalty of $238 million in connection with schemes involving the bribery of foreign officials” in several countries. SBM USA also pleaded guilty “in connection with the resolution.”

After blowing the whistle, Taylor moved back to England. In July 2020, Taylor went on holiday in Dubrovnik, Croatia with his wife and three children. While there, he “was arrested on an Interpol red licence.” According to BBC reporting, the “warrant was withdrawn but Croatian courts would not allow him to leave amid ongoing extradition proceedings.” This meant that Taylor had to stay behind in Croatia, forced to be separated from his family when they returned to the UK. He has been in Croatia ever since the July 2020 family holiday.

Taylor was forced to stay in Croatia because “authorities in Monaco sought to extradite him for questioning about claims he demanded money to keep quiet,” the July 8 article states. However, Taylor still “has not been charged with any offence” and “denies the claims.” The most recent development in his case comes because Croatian Minister of Justice Ivan Malenica “overturned a decision by the county’s supreme court to extradite him to Monaco.”

However, Taylor is not completely cleared to return home yet. He told BBC News: “The file has to be sent from the ministry of justice to the judge in Dubrovnik who determined my bail conditions so he can release me from my bail conditions. Then I will get my passport back and be able to leave finally for England. So it looks like I’ll be watching the [Euro 2020] final here!”

Whistleblowers and whistleblower advocates have spoken out in celebration of what will be the end of Taylor’s forced stay in Croatia. Trevor Kitchen, a whistleblower from the UK who blew the whistle on currency manipulation, said: “Jonathan’s year long detention was a violation of his human rights. It’s more proof that the European arrest warrant (EAW) is being abused by those in powerful positions to muzzle Whistle-blowers and stifle truth. His long overdue release is a welcomed victory but a stark reminder that Whistle-blowers are still at serious risk of brutal and senseless retaliation when reporting wrongdoing in Europe.”

Similarly, Whistleblowing International Network (WIN), a group of whistleblower advocacy organizations, published a press release celebrating the decision. WIN is also calling on Monaco “to drop any further proceedings against Jonathan Taylor and to focus on the actions of SBM Offshore as a proper target for their investigations.”

“I am of course elated that justice has finally prevailed and I am appreciative that Minister of Justice Ivan Malenica was able to pay regard to the salient legal arguments of my lawyers that were seemingly overlooked by the Courts in making his decision to reject Monaco’s flawed attempt at extraditing me,” Taylor said in the WIN press release. “Special thanks go to all my supporters in Europe, overseas and in Croatia who somehow kept me sane in my year of need! Be assured that I remain resolute and proud of exposing serious wrongdoing at SBM Offshore and I will never be intimidated by the corrupt and those that shamefully seek retaliation against me for exposing them. I continue to stand ready to assist the Monaco Prosecutor in the event that a decision is made to pursue those responsible for SBM Offshore’s illicit business practices instead of me.”

Georgina Halford-Hall, Chief Executive of WhistleblowersUK, provided this statement to WNN: “WhistleblowersUK are elated by the decision and courage of the Croatia Judge who finally released Jonathan Taylor after almost a year of torment by the Monaco Authorities. This case again highlights the need for greater international determination and commitment to the introduction of robust laws that prevent the persecution of whistleblowers who are the cornerstone of a safe and transparent society.”

WhistleblowersUK will also be “supporting calls for a full inquiry into this case and reassurance that this kind of punitive behaviour will not be supported by any country against whistleblowers,” according to Halford-Hall. The group congratulates “everyone involved in the colossal effort of campaigning for Jonathan’s release” and wishes him, his wife, and his children “a period of peace and time to recover.”

Read BBC News’ reporting on Taylor here. 

Read more global whistleblower news on WNN

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