In the US state of Massachusetts, the law provides that 25% of recovered stolen state funds be awarded to whistle-blowers. It is time that SA starts giving ‘serious consideration’ to paying whistle-blowers, ‘given the perils they go through’, says former Public Protector Professor Thuli Madonsela, now the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University. In an analysis in the Financial Mail, she uses the example of ‘Ms M’, who came from Egypt to tell her about what she believed was state capture in the relationship between consulting company Trillian, Eskom and the Guptas. Trillian subsequently sued her for disclosing the information, and she was hounded ‘for years’ by the Hawks, which highlights the inadequacies of the Protected Disclosures Act. Madonsela points out that if this had been Massachusetts, ‘Ms M’ would have worked with a law firm to dig further into the suspected crime. The firm would have taken the matter on a contingency basis, and would have received a cut of the 25% payout if there was a successful prosecution and recovery of state funds. Madonsela says that this type of system has a much greater chance of recovering stolen funds:
* Investigations are swift, as the money trail is followed before it gets cold.
* Funds are recovered before they are taken offshore or parcelled out to third parties under agreements that ensure recoverability by the original looters.
* The investigations are conducted by trained, hard-nosed investigators.
* Multiple investigations can happen concurrently at no cost to the state, avoiding dozens of costly commissions of inquiry.
Madonsela adds that this ‘socially just’ system levels the playing field between alleged wrongdoers and whistle-blowers. ‘It is my considered view that SA should pass a law that creates a similar recovery industry for looted state funds.’