Last December, while U.S. taxpayers were doing their holiday shopping, Congress quietly approved more than $35 billion in bailouts to international development banks. These multilateral development banks (MDBs) are immune from national oversight and laws, both here and abroad. They are riddled with corruption and blatantly resist any meaningful internal governance reform. Experts estimate that between $26 –$130 billion have been lost to corruption at the World Bank alone since its founding, to say nothing of the other MDBs.
Our elected officials should do more to reduce the burden of these institutions on taxpayers, but at least Congress hasn’t issued a blank check. According to a federal law that was passed in December, before the U.S. can contribute tens of billions of dollars in cold cash and guarantees to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the African Development Bank, the Treasury Department must report that each institution is making substantial progress toward implementing certain reforms – including best practice whistleblower protections.
A comprehensive survey of more than 5,400 executives worldwide found that whistleblowers detected more economic crimes than corporate security, internal audits, fraud risk management and law enforcement combined. And why wouldn’t they? Workers on the inside are often the only individuals with knowledge of corruption who aren’t involved in the scheme.
Whatever else ought to be done to reform MBDs, strong whistleblower protections are crucial to ensuring that economic crimes are detected and that the billions of American taxpayer dollars flowing into them are spent appropriately.
That’s where you come in. The Treasury Department is required to submit a report to Congress about the MDBs’ progress on these reform measures. Without oversight from the American people, Treasury is expected to quietly issue a report that rubber-stamps MDB practices that have condoned retaliation against whistleblowers. The report may well approve the bailouts, although the Banks have yet to even adopt best practice whistleblower protections.
Please sign the petition to demand the Treasury Department to conduct – and release for public comment – a credible review that details these protections. We must do more to reform these banks, but right now, we must make sure that before another penny of taxpayer money is distributed, the MDBs are held accountable for implementing strong whistleblower protections.
This petition is a joint project of the National Taxpayers Union and GAP.
I believe that as a vital first step, credible oversight mechanisms must be in place at these institutions before they receive more than $35 billion in cash and guarantees. I especially support the implementation of best practices for the protection of whistleblowers and believe that contributions of U.S. taxpayers’ money to these institutions should only be made with the strongest of whistleblower protections in place.
A 2007 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers of more than 5,400 executives worldwide found that whistleblowers detected more economic crimes than corporate security, internal audits, fraud risk management and law enforcement combined. Clearly, strong whistleblower protections are crucial to ensuring that economic crimes are detected and that funds are spent appropriately.
In an election year that is still beset with economic uncertainty, American taxpayers are especially wary of more bank bailouts. More than ever before, oversight of our money is essential. Therefore, we call on the Treasury Department to play a watchdog role and to conduct a thorough, valid and reliable review of the compliance of the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the African Development Bank with the whistleblower reforms set out in this law.
As part of this review, I request that you include data about how many whistleblowers have reported retaliation at each organization and how many have subsequently won their retaliation claims. A report on this issue that lacks what should be readily available data is simply not a credible oversight effort.
I also request that when Treasury defines “best practices” for whistleblower protection, it does not accept a system that fails to meet the most modest standards in U.S. law, which include: 1) a day in court for whistleblowers in which the defendant isn’t the judge and jury of its own alleged retaliation; and 2) whistleblowers who are fired get their jobs back if they win. Without these premises, the MDB system is a fraud that must not be endorsed by the Treasury Department.
As an American taxpayer, I care about this report and call for it to be publicly released by the Treasury Department for public comment before it is sent to Congress and a single penny is distributed to these Banks for their general capital increases. Enforcement of transparency reforms cannot be done in secret.
Thank you for your attention to this request.