Ukraine draws up rules to financially reward whistleblowers

21 Aug 19

Whistleblowers in Ukraine could be paid up to 10% of the value of the corruption they expose, if laws currently being drafted are put into place.

Deputy head of the office of the president Ruslan Ryaboshapka told a meeting of NGOs and international experts on Monday that whistleblowers could become an “important instrument” in overcoming corruption.

He said: “Whistleblowers who report large-scale corruption schemes that cause significant damage to the state will be encouraged by material remuneration.

“In addition, the state will guarantee the exposers of corruption crimes protection from persecution for disclosure of information, restoration of violated labour and other rights, confidentiality of reports of corruption, as well as responsibility in cases of persecution of whistleblowers.”

The draft laws are hoped to give would-be whistleblowers the motivation and protection they need to come forward, including payment of up to 10% of money reimbursed to the state or the amount of the bribe.

Corruption has marred Ukraine public life for years.

Former president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in 2014, and his associates were accused by the new government of taking $37bn of state assets.

Last year, a report revealed the country lost more than €4bn a year through customs corruption.

Transparency International, a group that campaigns against global corruption, lists Ukraine as 120th of 180 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index 2018.

A spokesman for the group said the appropriateness of rewards for whistleblowers “very much depends on the national situation”.

He said: “In Canada, some have argued that an incentives system has helped change the cultural stigma around blowing the whistle on wrongdoing.

“South Korea is sometimes held up as an example of how increased incentives can increase reporting. But there is a good deal of debate.”

Work released by Transparency International in 2018 suggested benefits of reward programmes include increasing the number of people coming forward and reducing the costs of long investigations.

In South Korea, researchers found the reward system fostered distrust among cartel members, who began to suspect one another of “blowing the whistle”.

But Transparency International also warned schemes could encourage false reports, or perhaps give a whistleblower an incentive to encourage corruption in others, increasing the size of their eventual reward.

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