In no. 11 of the State Gazette dated 02.02.2023, a new Act on the protection of whistleblowers or publicly disclosing Information on violations /”the Act”/ was promulgated, which introduces the requirements of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the protection of whistleblowers of the EU.
The Act enters into force on 04.05.2023 and aims to ensure the protection of persons who file reports or publicly disclose information about violations of Bulgarian legislation or acts of the European Union, which became known to them during or on the occasion of the performance of their work or official duties or in another work context.
The Act concerns violations of the Bulgarian legislation or the acts of the European Union specified in the annex to the act in the field of: public procurement; financial services, products and markets; preventing money laundering and terrorism financing; product safety and compliance; transport safety; environmental Protection; radiation protection and nuclear safety; food and feed safety, animal health and animal welfare; public health and consumer protection; the protection of privacy and personal data; the security of networks and information systems.
The protection also covers information about: violations that affect the financial interests of the European Union within the meaning of Art. 325 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; violations of the rules of the internal market within the meaning of art. 26, paragraph 2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, including the rules of the European Union and Bulgarian legislation on competition and state aid; violations related to cross-border tax schemes, the purpose of which is to obtain a tax advantage that is contrary to the object or purpose of the applicable law in the field of corporate taxation.
The scope of this law also includes crimes of a general nature, which became known to the whistleblower during the performance of his official duties.
The obligated persons under the Whistleblowing Act are:
They are required to:
Protection is granted to the reporting person, who, in the sense of the law, is a natural person filing a report or publicly disclosing information about a violation that became known to him in a work context, in his capacity as an employee, intern, self-employed person, partner, person, which works for a natural or legal person, a job candidate and others.
Protection under the Act is also provided to persons who assist the whistleblower in the whistleblowing process, persons who are related to the whistleblower, for example colleagues or relatives, legal entities in which the whistleblower owns an interest, for whom he works or with whom it is otherwise associated in a work context. The protection is provided from the moment of public disclosure of information about a violation or from the filing of the report.
Different amounts and types of sanctions are provided for breach of obligations, ranging from BGN 400 to BGN 20,000 for legal entities. For repeated violations of the obligations to create an internal reporting channel and to periodically review and update the internal rules that should be adopted, larger amounts of sanctions are provided - from BGN 10,000 to BGN 30,000 for legal entities.
The law also provides for a fine of BGN 3,000 to BGN 7,000 for a person found to have knowingly filed a report or publicly disclosed false information.
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