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Whistleblower Improvement Act Signed into Law

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The recent passage of the 2022 Omnibus spending package signed into law by President Biden includes important improvements in the fight against financial corruption and guarantees for whistleblowers. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, essentially the budget for the U.S. government, included an anti-corruption bill known as the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Whistleblower Improvement Act which became law in December 2022.

The AML Act is said to improve and build upon existing whistleblower programs, particularly anti-money laundering programs, by “setting a minimum award amount and creating a funding mechanism to pay whistleblowers” according to Congresswoman Alma Adams on the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

The AML was specifically written to improve options for global whistleblowers who through U.S. law, could receive compensation and protection for actions that occur on a transnational field including those involving Russia and Ukraine. The AML may specifically assist whistleblowers who report violations of national sanctions but who have not traditionally been protected under U.S. laws in the same way that corporate whistleblowers are protected.

The AML was modeled off of the Dodd-Frank Act which established whistleblower programs at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The AML has established that no whistleblower will receive less than 10% of the recovery. Previously, there was no minimum for awards. The Act also establishes a fund, financed by sanctions, to pay whistleblowers in a similar fashion to the SEC program so that awards will not be held up due to Congressional appropriations processes.

According to the Senator Chuck Grassley, similar programs including the False Claims Act, the SEC whistleblower program and the IRS whistleblower programs have saved the U.S. taxpayers over $80 billion. As whistleblowers generally receive 10 to 30% of whistleblower lawsuit recoveries, payments to plaintiffs may also reach into the billions of dollars.

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