OECD - Unmasking Corruption, Empowering Whistleblowers

PSI was invited by the OECD to offer our view on whistleblowers’ protection.

On Thursday, March 28, 2024, the OECD Conference Centre in Paris was abuzz with anticipation as experts and stakeholders gathered for a panel discussion titled "Unmasking Corruption, Empowering Whistleblowers." The side event, part of the OECD Global Anti-corruption and Integrity Forum, brought together a distinguished group of speakers to delve into the critical role of whistleblowers in combatting corruption and bribery while ensuring their protection and empowerment. 

Moderated by France Chain, Senior Legal Analyst of the Anti-Corruption Division at OECD, the panel discussion featured a lineup of esteemed professionals in the field: 

  • Camilo Rubiano, Legal Officer of Public Services International

  • Chloe Wootton, Head of Policy and Engagement at the UK Serious Fraud Office

  • Drago Kos, Member of the Board of Directors of Integrity Fellowship and Sanctuary

  • Kalliopi Zouvia, Data Protection Officer and Senior Investigator at the Greek Ombudsman

  • Stephen Kohn, Partner at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto and Chairman of the Board at National Whistleblower Center 

The session explored the pivotal role of whistleblowers in exposing corruption and bribery, as well as promoting integrity within organizations. Participants engaged in a nuanced discussion on the current landscape of anti-bribery efforts and the challenges of safeguarding whistleblowers while conducting investigations. 

One of the central themes of the discussion was the importance of whistleblower protections in combatting corruption, particularly in the context of foreign bribery. The panellists highlighted the critical role played by whistleblowers in uncovering complex financial transactions and illegal activities, emphasizing the need for robust protections to encourage reporting. 

The panel also delved into the challenges faced by whistleblowers, including the risks of retaliation and the stigma associated with whistleblowing. Participants emphasized the need for comprehensive support mechanisms, including legal, financial, and psychological assistance, to empower whistleblowers and ensure their safety. 

Furthermore, the discussion touched upon the use of technology, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), in enhancing whistleblower reporting mechanisms. Participants provided insights into the potential applications of AI in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of whistleblowing systems. 

Throughout the session, participants underscored the importance of removing barriers to reporting and ensuring that whistleblowers are protected from retaliation. They called for the implementation of robust whistleblower frameworks, supported by effective enforcement mechanisms and remedies for whistleblowers who suffer retaliation. 

Looking ahead, the panelists emphasized the role of multilateral institutions like the OECD in advancing whistleblower protections and combating corruption on a global scale. They highlighted the need for continued collaboration and dialogue among stakeholders to address the pressing issues facing whistleblowers and promote transparency and accountability worldwide. 

The panel discussion on "Unmasking Corruption, Empowering Whistleblowers" provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities in combatting corruption and promoting integrity through whistleblower protections. As we continue to confront these issues, it is imperative that we prioritize the safety and empowerment of whistleblowers, recognizing their invaluable contributions to transparency and accountability in society.