Senator Chuck Grassley: Grassley-Led Legislation Supporting Whistleblowers, Combatting Money Launderers, and Sanctions Violators Passes Senate
This article features Government Accountability Project and was originally published here.
WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was last night unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate. The bill would strengthen an anti-money laundering whistleblower program and hold sanctions violators accountable. The House draft of the legislation has also received committee approval in the House of Representatives.
“The whistleblower programs I’ve helped create have seen roaring success, with the False Claims Act saving taxpayers $70 billion, the SEC whistleblower program saving over $4.8 billion and the IRS whistleblower program saving over $6 billion. I’m optimistic that our new program encouraging individuals to come forward for suspected sanctions violations will be successful as well. Given the expansive sanctions we’ve implemented on Russia as they wage an unjust war in Ukraine, our legislation is urgently needed to hold bad actors accountable,” Grassley said.
The bipartisan, bicameral proposal expands on an anti-money laundering whistleblower program by adding support for whistleblowers who report violations of U.S. sanction laws, providing a funding mechanism to pay whistleblower awards and guaranteeing that whistleblowers will be paid a minimum award amount.
Three statutes account for nearly all sanctions violation penalties: the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act. If a whistleblower discloses a violation of one of these laws and successful enforcement action ensues, this legislation enables the whistleblower to receive part of the fine collected based on their information.
Under this proposal, the whistleblower would receive 10 to 30 percent of the value of fines collected from their actions. This puts the anti-money laundering system on par with other whistleblower programs. These changes also follow best practices from other programs and have been shown through repeated studies by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Inspector General to increase reporting.
Unlike the existing system, the bill appropriates no new funds while also ensuring that money is available when whistleblowers are approved to receive an award. This is accomplished by creating a $300 million fund from fines collected by the Departments of Justice and Treasury.
A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio). Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) are also cosponsors of the legislation in the Senate.
The bill is endorsed by the National Whistleblower Center, Taxpayers Against Fraud, the Government Accountability Project, the Project on Government Oversight and Transparency International.