Wilson, Phillips, Whitehouse, Risch Lead Introduction of Bill to Improve Sanctions Enforcement

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and James Risch (R-ID) introduced the Sanctions Evasion Whistleblower Rewards Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would protect national security by offering rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of sanctions evaders.


“I am grateful to have authored this text to incentivize informants with credible information regarding evasion of U.S. or UN sanctions to come forward. This bill was inspired by Bassam Barabandi, a former Syrian diplomat, who defected and provided critical information to the United States on the Assad regime’s illegal activities and human rights abuses. Those seeking to circumvent sanctions and threaten U.S. national security need to know that the United States will pursue violators and impose penalties for doing business with terrorists and dictators,” said Rep. Wilson.


“No one is above the law,” said Rep. Phillips. “We must do everything in our power to hold individuals who evade U.S. or UN sanctions accountable and incentivize prospective whistleblowers to do the right thing. The bipartisan Sanctions Evasion and Whistleblower Rewards Act will facilitate both, and I’m proud to help lead it.”


“Our bipartisan bill will incentivize the sharing of information to help apprehend dangerous Russian oligarchs,” said Whitehouse. “Providing rewards to informants can pay dividends in protecting our national security.”


“As we continue to ratchet up sanctions and pressure on malign actors, those actors are finding new ways to evade sanctions around the world,” said Risch. “This legislation will leverage the success of the State Department’s existing Rewards for Justice Program by expanding the program to include rewards for credible information on U.S. and UN sanctions evasion.”


The Sanctions Evasion Whistleblower Rewards Act would amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956, expanding the Rewards for Justice program to authorize the Department of State to offer rewards for information about the identity or location of individuals and entities that defy sanctions imposed by the United States or the United Nations.


The Rewards for Justice program does not currently authorize providing rewards for those giving information regarding the identity or location of individuals who violate sanctions. This legislation would expand the program and incentivize informants to come forward with actionable information regarding evasion, improving sanctions enforcement.


The legislation is also cosponsored by Representatives Pat Fallon (R-TX) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).


The full bill text is available here.

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