Bipartisan Bill Uses Whistleblower Incentives to Battle Foreign Corruption

On Tuesday, a bipartisan bill was introduced by Congressmen Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) and Keith Rothfus (R-PA), that would help U.S. authorities combat terrorist financing and foreign government corruption. The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Act (H.R. 5101), would establish a rewards program for whistleblowers who notify the U.S. government of assets in U.S. financial institutions that are linked to foreign corruption, allowing authorities to recover and return these assets and prevent further enabling of foreign corruption and terrorist financing.

The bill is modeled on existing successful U.S. programs that reward those who come forward to report fraud and aims to help return assets stolen from foreign state coffers, by encouraging whistleblowers to talk to US authorities. The bill would allow the Department of Treasury to grant asylum and monetary awards to whistleblowers who provide information about stolen foreign government assets that are stored in the US.

In a kleptocracy, or “government by thieves,” corruption is the heart of the problem. According to the International Monetary Fund, as much as 5 percent of the world’s gross domestic product is laundered money, and only 1 percent of it is ever spotted. The taking of money out of corrupt countries by kleptocrats is a long-standing practice but today the scale and sophistication of this activity presents new and serious challenges to democracy. This corruption constitutes a multi-faceted threat to global security and international stability. As countries plagued with endemic corruption become breeding grounds and havens for criminals and terrorist groups who threaten global security.

“The United States must intensify the fight against foreign government corruption and the money laundering that allows terrorist organizations to thrive,” said Congressman Lynch. “Foreign governments that are weakened by corrupt leaders do not have the financial or legal resources to combat terrorist financing, and the U.S. government should be doing everything we can to stop our financial institutions from unwittingly aiding corrupt officials and terrorist organizations.”

Over the past 30 years, laws that encourage whistleblowers to report serious wrongdoing by offering monetary rewards have proven to be “the most powerful tool the American people have to protect the government from fraud.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Norma J. Torres(D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ted Budd (R-NC), and Michael Capuano(D-MA).

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