Monday, June 04, 2012

Fwd: FAIR Monthly Headlines ( some useful reads about what we already know )

Never feed a cancer or corruption

    Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform

FAIR Monthly Headlines: May 2012

A selected list of articles added to the FAIR website last month. These are about whistleblowing, whistleblowers, and the types of misconduct that they typically expose.

FAIR Comment

Pharmaceutical industry cannot be trusted with public health

It is absurd for EU taxpayers to subsidize the pharmaceutical industry to develop new antibiotics simply because these massively profitable companies claim they cannot afford to do so. Yet at the same time these companies sabotage the human efficacy of the few...

How much 'pink slime' are Canadians eating?

Can Canadian authorities provide any credible assurances that ammoniated beef (also known as 'pink slime') is not present in our hamburgers and ground beef? The official story is that this product is not allowed in Canada, but consider the following facts:

Will PEI immigrant program ever be properly investigated?

The odds seem to be against this scandal in PEI ever being properly investigated, or anyone called to account. Consider the facts: Ottawa has known for years that the program was problematic, so much so that the federal goverment eventually had to shut it down to halt the abuse...

US government whistleblowers suffering worse than ever

This piece highlights how US government whistleblowers suffer reprisals more frequently than 20 years ago. They are nine times more likely to be fired; six times more likely to be suspended; nearly five times more likely to receive a grade-level demotion; 2½ times as likely to be assigned...

FAIR predicted misuse of stimulus money

The questionable use of stimulus funds should come as no surprise to anyone, given the virtual absence of controls to detect and prevent fraud – especially the lack of whistleblower protection. In February 2008 FAIR predicted (in an article published in the Hill Times) that...

Confirmed again: whistleblowers are tops for fighting fraud

Like previous ACFE reports, this one again confirms the importance of whistleblowers to combat fraud. A remarkable 43% of the 1,388 frauds studied were initially detected by tips. That's more than from the next two methods combined – management reviews and internal audit (14% each)....


CBC "As It Happens": the Conservatives' record on whistleblower protection

Topics: Audio, David Hutton, Legislation, PSDPA

CBC Radio – May 17, 2012

Carol Off interviews David Hutton on the subject of Canada's federal whistleblower protection, the Conservative government's track record on this issue, and the now-overdue five-year review of the law.

Five years ago the government introduced legislation to protect public service employees should they come forward with a complaint or a claim of wrongdoing. The law was billed as the "Mount Everest" of whistleblower protection. Well, now the mountain is in danger of becoming a molehill.

Government whistleblowers worried by delay in review of the law

Topics: Legislation, PSDPA, Treasury Board

Paul Gaboury – 23 May 23, 2012

More than a month after the deadline specified in the law, Ottawa has not yet announced when it will begin the process of reviewing the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA). This is of great concern to groups defending the rights of whistleblowers, who fear that the government may bypass the process to avoid a real discussion.

"After years of inaction and a spectacular false start, Canada is now decades behind countries like the USA, the UK and Australia. It is essential to consult with experts from these countries, which unlike Canada have considerable experience with effective laws, and have carried out excellent in-depth research" said David Hutton, executive director of Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR).

Canadian whistleblowers: out on a limb

Topics: Legislation, Whistleblowers

Arnold Amber – May 2012

When it comes to the protection of whistleblowers, Canada ranks near the bottom of western democracies that have taken up the issue. We are deficient when it comes to a strong legal framework and the development and administration of protection protocols in corporations and government.

There is also an extremely aggressive pushback by companies, governments and others against whistleblowers when their institutions are accused of wrongdoing.

Medical research ethics exemplar Dr. Nancy Olivieri honoured

Topics: Corporate ethics, Dr. Nancy Olivieri, Health care, Honours, Pharmaceutical industry, Professional ethics, Science, Videos

On Friday 25th May, Dr. Nancy Olivieri received an honorary degree from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Dalhousie. This is the most recent of numerous honours and awards that Olivieri has received over the years.

The university recognized Olivieri "...for taking a courageous stand that helped bring issues of medical ethics to the forefront of our collective consciousness, and for her national and international research in blood disorders. In both of these realms, Dr. Olivieri has chosen to look beyond herself in order to advance the greater good."

Alberta premier promises transparency, whistleblower protection

Topics: Alberta, Legislation

Karen Kleiss – May 8, 2012

Premier Alison Redford promises a sweeping review of provincial laws that help Albertans access information about their government.

The review will be overseen by Don Scott, a rookie MLA appointed Tuesday as the province's first associate minister of Accountability, Transparency and Transformation. He will report to Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar.

Create Strong Protection for Whistleblowers, Watchdog Tells Alberta

Topics: Alberta, Legislation

Justina Reichel – May 16, 2012

A whistleblower watchdog is vowing to keep an eye on Alberta premier Alison Redford's promise to introduce whistleblower legislation, and says success depends on the premier setting the right "tone" for her government.

After winning the provincial election and swearing in her new cabinet, Redford promised a sweeping review of laws—"taking the best examples from the world, including whistleblower legislation"—that would help Albertans access information about their government.

More than half of political gifts illegal: Alberta probe

Topics: Alberta, Electoral fraud, Political misconduct

James Wood – May 25, 2012

More than half the investigations by Alberta's chief electoral officer of alleged political donations from municipalities, school divisions and other "prohibited corporations" have turned up illegal contributions to political parties or constituency associations.

According to numbers released by Elections Alberta on Friday, the agency has completed a review of 59 cases out of a total of 79. In 28 of those files, there is enough evidence to impose administrative penalties — fines equal to the donation — on the donors, while in a further 13 cases the donors and recipients have been censured because the allegations were "partly well founded."

Internal review absolves bureaucrats who violated privacy of veterans

Topics: Privacy, Veterans Affairs

Murray Brewster – May 27, 2012

An independent investigator who reviewed privacy violations at Veterans Affairs Canada told the Harper government in late 2010 it was appropriate to include the personal medical information of an outspoken advocate in briefing material, say internal federal documents.

The central finding of the Amprax Inc. review flies in the face of the country's privacy watchdog, who concluded almost two years ago that two briefing notes sprinkled with the references to well-known critic Sean Bruyea's psychiatric reports broke the law.

Newfoundland union pushing for whistleblower law

Topics: Legislation, Newfoundland & Labrador

Canadian Press – May 21, 2012

A Newfoundland and Labrador union is urging the provincial Tory government to fulfil a five-year-old promise to implement whistleblower legislation.

Carol Furlong, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, says she's disappointed more hasn't been done to implement the legislation in recent years.

David Hutton on delayed Newfoundland legislation

Topics: Legislation, Newfoundland & Labrador, Videos

CBC News – May 17, 2012

Five years after it was promised, the government of Newfoundland still has not introduced whistleblower legislation, and Justice Minister Felix Collins has suggested that it is not needed.

CBC's Nadia Stewart interviews David Hutton about whistleblower laws, why these are needed, what other countries are doing and why politicians may be nervous of this type of legislation.

Designed to Fail: Why Regulatory Agencies Don't Work

Topics: Regulatory oversight, USA

William Sanjour – May 1, 2012

Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We have been "reforming" regulatory agencies over and over again, and over and over again they have failed. Yet, as a result of the recent catastrophic failures of regulatory agencies, politicians and pundits are talking about the same old "Regulatory Reform" again. 

"Fill the regulatory agencies with honest people who won't cave in to special interests."  "Give them more money, more authority and more people."  But my experience has shown that by concentrating all legislative, executive and judiciary authority in one regulatory agency just makes it easier for it to be corrupted by the industries it regulates.

40% consider corruption widespread in Canadian businesses

Topics: Corporate ethics, Corruption

Mitchell Ogisi – May 10, 2012

About two in three adults worldwide believe corruption is widespread in the businesses in their countries. This belief is relatively commonplace everywhere in the world -- ranging from 60% in the U.S.A.  to a high of 76% in sub-Saharan Africa -- but it tends to be higher in lower income regions.

Gallup's data, collected in 2011, demonstrate that corruption in business is an issue for developed and developing countries. However, developing nations may suffer more because corruption can stymie financial development and foreign investments and foster income inequality.

Minister calls for investigation of P.E.I. Immigrant Program

Topics: Corruption, Immigration, PEI

Brodie Fenlon – 10 May 2012

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has called on his officials to launch an investigation in the wake of a joint probe of P.E.I.'s controversial immigrant nominee program by the Huffington Post Canada and King's College journalism students.

"I have referred these findings to my department for further investigation," Kenney said.The series, reported by students at the University of King's College in Halifax, found the now-defunct program offered some foreign nationals a way to purchase entry into Canada by making "investments" they would never recoup, in companies they might not even know.

Ex-Olympus CEO Whistleblower Wins Multi-Million Dollar Settlement

Topics: Victories, Whistleblowers

Kirstin Ridley – May 29, 2012

Michael Woodford, ousted as head of Japanese camera-to-endoscope maker Olympus after blowing the whistle on one of Japan's biggest corporate frauds, on Tuesday won a likely multi-million dollar settlement of his claim for unfair dismissal.

After a night of negotiations, Woodford's lawyer Tom Linden told a London employment tribunal judge that final agreement hinged on ratification by the Olympus board at a meeting on June 8.

Sino-Forest case cries out for justice

Topics: OSC, White-collar crime

Barrie McKenna – May 27, 2012

The perp walk. Orange jump suits. Tycoons sharing jail cells with drug dealers. It's all very un-Canadian.There's a good reason the U.S. justice system treats its fallen business icons like common crooks. It's about deterrence of white collar crime.

Conrad Black, Bernie Ebbers, Martha Stewart, Dennis Kozlowski and Jeffrey Skilling all paid a high price for being prosecuted in the United States – most notably, the loss of their freedom.

Feds pay scofflaws hefty bonuses

Topics: Veterans Affairs

David Pugliese – May 26 2012

The senior managers at Veterans Affairs Canada received almost $700,000 in bonuses and extra pay last year even as their department came under fire for failing to help former soldiers.

The last several years have seen numerous complaints from veterans about poor treatment from the department and breaches of their privacy by Veterans Affairs bureaucrats.

EU Joins Widening Push To Find New Antibiotics

Topics: Pharmaceutical industry, Public health

Sten Stovall – May 23, 2012

The European Union Thursday will pledge funds to find new antiobiotics, its first attempt to help drugmakers develop medicines to fight increasingly drug-resistant superbugs that are taking more lives every year and adding to rising health costs across the region.

The European Commission has teamed up with a handful of pharmaceutical and biotech companies to launch a new research program that will see the drugmakers and scientists share information that could be useful in developing new drugs, the first step in a wider initiative that European authorities hope will drive the development of a new generation of bacteria-killing medicines.

Whistleblowers - Brave Heroes or Social Outcasts?

Topics: Whistleblowers

Hugh Salmon – May 24, 2012

The word 'whistleblower' has re-entered my life. I hate this word with a passion. In the school playground, whistleblowing is called 'sneaking'. As a sneak, you are the person who has reported the misbehaviour of your schoolmates to the teachers.

You cannot be trusted. You have behaved in a furtive, underhand way. You are left isolated, alone and friendless (every child's worst nightmare). You are contemptible.

How 'Pierre Poutine' covered his tracks

Topics: Electoral fraud

Glen McGregor and Robert Cross – May 22, 2012

Whoever sent out a deceptive robocall in Guelph on the day of the 2011 federal election took care to cover his tracks, using two false names, two false addresses, an untraceable email account, a dead-end Paypal account, a "burner" cell phone, pre-paid credit cards and a proxy server to hide his computer's IP address.

A visual explanation of Pierre Poutine's modus operandi, created by Glen McGregor and Robert Cross of the Ottawa Citizen.

Ecuador Plaintiffs File $18 Billion Lawsuit Against Chevron In Canada

Topics: Corporate ethics, Environment, Latin America, Oil & gas industry

Nasdaq – May 30, 2012

Lago Agrio plaintiffs from the Amazon communities have filed Wednesday a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario in order to enforce a ruling by an Ecuadorean court, obtained after 19 years of litigation, against U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp. (CVX) that called for $18.2 billion in damages.

The enforcement lawsuit is seeking the seizure of shares and assets of Chevron Canada as it does not currently hold any assets in Ecuador. Chevron said it will vigorously defend against any enforcement action, and added that the Ecuador judgment is not enforceable in any court that observes the rule of law.

Most Whistleblowers Report Internally, Study Finds

Topics: Research

C.M. Matthews – May 30, 2012

For the past two years, U.S. businesses have been predicting the disintegration of internal misconduct reporting at the hands of the Securities and Exchange Commission's new whistleblower program. Those fears may be overblown, according to a study released Thursday.

As the SEC wrote rules for the new program, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform package, the business community warned that offering bounties to whistleblowers would undermine their internal reporting systems. A 10% to 30% cut of penalties worth millions of dollars would be far more enticing than correcting the matter in-house, they argued.

US Air Force commander punished for retaliating against whistleblowers

Topics: Office of Special Counsel, USA, Victories

Craig Whitlock – May 21, 2012

The Air Force said Monday that it had fined the former commander of the Dover Air Force Base mortuary $7,000 and suspended his top deputy for 20 days without pay for retaliating against whistleblowers, but it allowed both men to keep their jobs.

The punishment came in response to an independent federal investigation that concluded the mortuary's leadership had wrongfully tried to fire two subordinates after they reported missing body parts, lax management and other problems at the base that handles America's war dead.

Bigger than Gomery? Quebec corruption inquiry set to get underway

Topics: Anti-corruption efforts, Construction industry, Organized crime, Quebec

Jonathan Montpetit and Sidhartha Banerjee – May 20, 2012

A public inquiry endowed with wide-ranging powers will begin hearings on Tuesday into the inner workings of Quebec's construction industry, and experts are warning the contents may not be pretty.

The long-awaited inquiry threatens to implicate dozens of businesses, local and provincial governments, political parties, and even explore links to organized crime.Given the size of the companies at the heart of the inquiry, its findings could also reach well beyond Quebec's borders.

Canadian energy firm stays mum on bribery allegations

Topics: Corruption, Foreign corrupt practices legislation, Oil & gas industry

Carrie Tait – May 15, 2012

Griffiths Energy International Inc., a company aspiring to go public but marred by an internal corruption investigation, has wrapped up its soul-searching mission.

But potential investors -- as well as existing private ones -- will find little comfort in a statement the company released Tuesday. Only three paragraphs of the 2,188-word (less boilerplate) press release are devoted to its bribery investigation.

Montreal corruption sweep arrests nine

Topics: Corruption, Municipalities, Organized crime, Political misconduct

Peter Rakobowchuk – May 17, 2012

Police arrested nine people in a massive anti-corruption sweep that nabbed several former key members of Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay's inner circle.

With Thursday's dragnet, the corruption scandals that have rocked Quebec over the last four years have returned home to where they started: Montreal's city hall.

Military ombudsman rebuts complaints of delays, dysfunction in his office

Topics: National Defence, Ombudsmen, Watchdogs

David Pugliese – May 18, 2012

Canada's embattled military ombudsman says he welcomes the investigation into his office ordered by Defence Minister Peter MacKay after former and current employees complained the organization has become dysfunctional, with questions raised about travel expenses, sexist jokes and whether issues raised by soldiers were being dealt with properly.

Pierre Daigle, a retired major general, will not step aside as the assessment of his office is done and intends to continue on with his role as ombudsman.

Toronto riding's election result tossed by judge

Topics: Electoral fraud

CBC News – May 18, 2012

Conservative MP Ted Opitz's 2011 federal election win in Etobicoke Centre was declared null and void today in a challenge by former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj.

Opitz won the May 2011 election by 26 votes, but Wrzesnewskyj challenged the results over voting irregularities. The case required more than 26 votes be thrown out for it to be declared void.

Canadian stimulus money goes to some implicated in Quebec scandals

Topics: Construction industry, Quebec, White-collar crime

Jonathan Montpetit – May 14, 2012

Some of the public money set aside for Canada's economic recovery has ended up in the hands of companies and individuals accused of taking part in an elaborate collusion scheme in Quebec.

An investigation by The Canadian Press of stimulus funding in three municipalities recently raided by police revealed three separate cases where companies tied to criminal charges received contracts under the multibillion-dollar federal-provincial infrastructure plan.

Global organisations lose 5% of revenue to fraud

Topics: Corruption, Research, White-collar crime

Iheanyi Nwachukwu – May 17, 2012

Organisations around the world lose an estimated 5 percent of their annual revenues to fraud, according to a survey of Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs) who investigated cases between January 2010 and December 2011.

Applied to the estimated 2011 Gross World Product, this figure translates to a potential total fraud loss of more than $3.5 trillion. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) published the results of the survey in its highly-anticipated 2012 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud & Abuse. The report includes global data amongst the 1,388 cases of fraud that were studied.

Committee report ignores huge loopholes in lobbying law

Topics: Government transparency, Legislation, Watchdogs

Democracy Watch – May 18, 2012

Democracy Watch and the national Government Ethics Coalition called on the Conservative Cabinet to go further than the recommendations of the House Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee by changing the federal Lobbying Act and enforcement system in 10 key ways to finally end secret, unethical lobbying of the federal government.

The Act is so full of loopholes, it should be called the "Some Lobbying by Some Lobbyists Act." And even if all of the House Committee's recommended changes were made, secret and unethical lobbying would still be allowed because of huge loopholes in the law. All parties are to blame for this, because even though the New Democrats proposed some additional changes beyond the Committee's recommendations, their proposals also failed to address the loopholes.

Canadian banks received 'secret' bailout: Think-tank

Topics: Financial crisis, Financial industry, Government transparency

Peter Henderson – April 30, 2012

Canadians were never told the true cost of a $114-billion "secret bailout" for the country's biggest banks during the financial crisis, says a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. "We've had a false sense of security," said study author and CCPA economist David MacDonald.

"Ever since the global financial crisis struck in 2008, Canadians have been subjected to a constant refrain: Canada has the 'most sound banking system in the world,'" MacDonald writes in the report. "During the worst of the crisis - 2008 to 2010 - the official line was that Canada's banks did not require the extraordinary bailout measures that were being offered in other countries, particularly in the U.S.

BC Hydro's huge losses due to private power

Topics: Power industry

Rafe Mair – May 13, 2012

This is neither a complicated nor a long story – but it's a tragic vindication for a hell of a lot of people who have been telling the story, ignored at best, more often vilified.

Look at page 1 of the story in the Vancouver Sun, May 11 under the heading "Hydro Awash In Private Power", where you'll see that BC Hydro is spilling water over its dams and missing a chance to make a huge profit and is, instead, sustaining a crippling loss all by reason of corrupt bargains it's been forced to make with private companies.

RCMP probing whistleblower's harassment claims

Topics: Harassment, Mental health injuries, PTSD, RCMP

CBC News – May 10, 2012

The RCMP says it is investigating claims in a lawsuit launched Wednesday in which Cpl. Catherine Galliford alleges sexual assault and sexual harassment within the force, but investigators have not yet been able to substantiate any of her claims.

Galliford, currently on sick leave, filed a detailed claim, saying she was suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder due to years of sexual harassment and a number of physical assaults by other RCMP supervisors and colleagues.

Ottawa crackdown on P.E.I. immigration scheme

Topics: Corruption, Immigration, PEI

The King's Investigative Workshop – May 8, 2012

The Prince Edward Island government resisted years of efforts by Ottawa to have it change an immigration program that federal officials increasingly saw as a threat to the integrity of the country's immigration program.

The plan allowed foreign nationals to obtain expedited entry to Canada by making a payment, some of which went to a business in Prince Edward Island.

B.C. skipper evaded prosecution in Canada, convicted in U.S.

Topics: Drug trafficking, RCMP

Sun Kim Bolan – May 7, 2012

A controversial B.C. skipper has been convicted by a Florida jury of illegally carrying 400 kilos of cocaine on his sailboat off the coast of Colombia last fall.

John (Phil) Stirling has evaded criminal prosecution in B.C. twice after being caught on vessels with huge quantities of drugs — in 2001 with $300 million worth of cocaine and in 2006 with $6.5 million worth of marijuana.

Three former Canada Revenue Agency workers charged

Topics: Canada Revenue Agency, Corruption, Quebec

Daniel Leblanc – May 1, 2012

In 2005, federal tax auditor Francesco Fazio went to a restaurant in Montreal and called on the manager to follow him for a private meeting in the handicapped washroom.

This RCMP allegation filed in court went on to say that Mr. Fazio warned the manager of La Belle Place that he had uncovered undeclared revenue from beer sales. Mr. Fazio said that if the restaurant didn't want to face a hefty tax bill, it would have to pay a $90,000 bribe.

Book review: Beautiful Souls

Topics: Books, Whistleblowers

By Eyal Press.

You have a decent job and work hard. You keep your nose clean, respect authority and have never joined a protest march. Suddenly you have the bad luck to face a cruel and seemingly impossible choice. Your superiors tell you to do something outrageous or unacceptable. Do you obey or, at grave personal cost, refuse?

In "Beautiful Souls", a subtle and thoughtful book, Eyal Press, an American journalist, tells the stories of four very ordinary people who, in widely different times, places and circumstances, surprised themselves by saying "no".

World Press Freedom Day: our rights in Canada

Topics: Access to information, Freedom of the press, Government transparency, Message control or 'spin'

Arnold Amber – May 3, 2012

Today marks World Press Freedom Day. On this day, countries all around the world, from Burma, to Egypt, to Venezuela, are fighting to establish this fundamental cornerstone of democracy. These countries are not taking these crucial freedoms for granted.

But in Canada, a country most assume already has an unfettered press—how should we mark World Press Freedom Day? If we value press freedom, we all need to take a closer look at the state of these rights here at home. When we look beyond the words of the Charter to the daily reality for working journalists, we see a gradual erosion of freedoms. And our government is a contributing factor.

Canada's failing grade on Open Government

Topics: Access to information, Government transparency

The Economist – April 21, 2012

One of the five aims of the Open Government Partnership, a 55-country initiative strongly backed by the Obama administration, is "increasing corporate accountability".

But a new report shows how poorly many in the partnership—including some that pride themselves on transparency—score on providing the legal name, official address, incorporation date and status, and other basic details of the companies they register.

Truth and Consequences: blowing the whistle is risky business

Topics: Whistleblowers

Arnold Amber – May 2012

CJFE launched a new award last year to honour Canadians who, at great personal and professional risk, report wrongdoing in their workplaces. Called the CJFE Integrity Award, it recognizes whistleblowers who have attempted to correct behavior in the public or private sectors.

In creating the award, CJFE believes that whistleblowing is a right of free expression, and affirms its belief that there should be greater protection for whistleblowers in Canadian law and practice.

Foreign radicals Koch brothers are after the oil sands

Topics: Climate change, Corporate ethics, Oil & gas industry

Gerald Caplan – May. 26, 2012

Stephen Harper's Conservatives have courageously chosen to expose and confront foreign interests that have surreptitiously been infiltrating the Canadian oil industry – and they don't mean their Chinese Communist partners. They are apparently in possession of revelations about these extremists and criminals that, in the words of Senator Nicole Eaton, "would make your blood boil."

Launching a much-needed Senate inquiry into "interference of foreign foundations in Canada's domestic affairs" and their "abuse" of registered charitable status, Ms. Eaton stated: "There is political manipulation. There is influence peddling. There are millions of dollars crossing borders masquerading as charitable donations." I am glad to contribute to their work.

Tracking ill-begotten loot from fallen Arab Spring dictators

Topics: Anti-corruption efforts, Arab spring, UNCAC

Martin de Sa'Pinto – May 24, 2012

Growing up in Africa, he used to hunt buffalo, a passion that still serves Geneva-based lawyer Enrico Monfrini well. His dogged pursuit of ill-gotten assets has made him the scourge of many of the world's dictators and kleptocrats.

An affable man with a sharp wit and a ready smile, the 67-year-old blends easily into a city of sprucely-dressed asset managers, bankers and lawyers, though his chosen calling would likely surprise many of them.

Figure skating: more corrupt than ever?

Topics: Corruption, Sport

Boston Globe – May 20, 2012

In the Olympics, many events depend on subjective scoring from a panel of judges. But confidence in these scoring systems has been undermined by scandals, perhaps most infamously a 2002 pairs skating case in which a French judge "was reportedly pressured by some combination of her national federation and the Russian mafia to vote for a Russian pair in exchange for a Russian vote for a French couple in ice dancing."

In response, the International Skating Union, the ISU, anonymized judges' scores—on the theory that vote trading would then be harder to carry off—and developed an elaborate score-tabulation system. A new study from a professor of economics at Dartmouth, however, suggests this has all been for naught or, even worse, for show.

Whistleblower accuses US medical firm of illegal marketing

Topics: Conflict of interest, Pharmaceutical industry, Science

MassDevice – May 14, 2012

An unsealed whistleblower lawsuit accuses Medtronic of violating the Medicare False Claims Act through illegal marketing of its Infuse bone growth protein, alleging that the medical device maker installed a crony as editor of an influential spine journal to push positive data on the controversial compound.

A whistleblower accused Medtronic of installing a stooge, spinal surgeon Dr. Thomas Zdeblick, as editor of an influential spine journal to push positive – and possibly premature – data on its Infuse bone growth stimulant.

Is Walmart Too Big, Powerful, Influential to Obey the Law?

Topics: Corporate ethics, Corruption, Foreign corrupt practices legislation, Mexico, USA

Richard Trumka – April 26, 2012

This week's reports from the New York Times about Walmart's practices in Mexico are breathtaking. The Times found "credible evidence that bribery played a persistent and significant role in Walmart's rapid growth in Mexico."

The Times interviewed an executive of Walmart's Mexican subsidiary who "bought zoning approvals and reductions in environmental impact fees." According to the New York Times, when lawyers for Walmart discovered this activity and informed senior management, then Walmart CEO Lee Scott ordered Walmart's internal investigative protocols revised to give the targets of internal investigations more control over those same investigations.

SEC Kowtows to Fortune 500, Whistleblower Says

Topics: Financial industry, Regulatory oversight, SEC, USA, Watchdogs, White-collar crime

Matt Reynolds – April 27, 2012

The SEC allows the nation's richest firms and financial institutions - and only the biggest and richest firms - to handpick the lawyers investigating them for corruption, a whistleblower claims in Federal Court.

Rodolfo Michelon claims that the SEC runs an exclusive "outsourcing program" for Wall Street, neutering incentives and protections for whistleblowers under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Fukushima a Ticking Time-Bomb: experts

Topics: Japan, Nuclear industry, Public health, Regulatory oversight, USA

Brad Jacobson – May 4, 2012

More than a year after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the Japanese government, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) present similar assurances of the site's current state: challenges remain but everything is under control. The worst is over.

But nuclear waste experts say the Japanese are literally playing with fire in the way nuclear spent fuel continues to be stored onsite, especially in reactor 4, which contains the most irradiated fuel -- 10 times the deadly cesium-137 released during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. These experts also charge that the NRC is letting this threat fester because acknowledging it would call into question safety at dozens of identically designed nuclear power plants around the U.S., which contain exceedingly higher volumes of spent fuel in similar elevated pools outside of reinforced containment.

Taking air safety complaints seriously

Topics: Aviation safety, Regulatory oversight, USA

Editorial Board – May 14, 2012

According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) whistleblowers, air traffic controllers in the New York area have slept on the job, left shifts early and used personal electronic gadgets while working in the control room.

Emergency service helicopters have been inadequately equipped with night-vision systems, potentially interfering with pilots' ability to read instruments. Unauthorized aircraft have entered U.S. airspace near Puerto Rico. Inconsistent runway rules at the Detroit airport have caused planes to come too close together during takeoff and landing.

EPA scientist who warned of caustic dust from Ground Zero wins job back

Topics: Merit Systems Protection Board, USA, Victories

Suzanne Goldenberg – May 7, 2012

A government scientist sacked for exposing the dangers to firefighters from the caustic air at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11 got her job back on Monday. A federal court ordered that Cate Jenkins, a chemist at the Environmental Protection Agency, be reinstated to her job with back pay.

Her lawyer said the decision, although based on matters of legal process, amounted to vindication for Jenkins's claims that the EPA had covered up the danger posed to first responders and others in lower Manhattan from the asbestos and highly corrosive dust that rose from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

Pink Slime Producer Permanently Shuts Down Plants

Topics: Food industry, Food safety, USA

Sarah Damian – May 9, 2012

Beef Products Inc. (BPI) – maker of ammoniated beef trimmings, or "pink slime" – announced that it will permanently close three of its four plants on May 25, a move that reveals the consequences of secrecy and nondisclosure in the food industry.

Since late March, when BPI temporarily suspended all but one of its processing plants, the company hoped to shift consumer sentiment by attacking media coverage of pink slime and using meat-producing governors (including Ag Gag supporter Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad) as ambassadors for gross product.

About FAIR

Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR) promotes integrity and accountability within government by empowering employees to speak out without fear of reprisal when they encounter wrongdoing. Our aim is to support legislation and management practices that will provide effective protection for whistleblowers and hence occupational free speech in the workplace. FAIR is a registered Canadian charity.

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