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On 1 July 2014, new whistleblower regulations came into force in Slovakia. By adopting a new Act No. 151/2014 Coll., amending Act No. 136/2001 Coll. on Protection of Economic Competition (the “Act”), a new whistleblower program has been introduced into Slovak competition law. Through this program, whistleblowers who provide the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic (the “Office”) with information relating to a cartel agreement may be financially rewarded. It should be added that whistleblower schemes in the area of competition law are used within the EU context only relatively rarely. The reason for incorporating this program in the Slovak legal system is the fact that, according to the Office, cartel participants use increasingly sophisticated methods to conceal their activities and, therefore, uncovering cartels in Slovakia is becoming extremely difficult. This program encourages employees or other persons having access to important information about a cartel agreement to inform the Office about the agreement and submit incriminating evidence. The program’s purpose, however, is also to prevent or deter anyone from participating in a cartel. To be rewarded, the whistleblower must be an individual (natural person) who: (i) does not have the status of an undertaking under the Act; and (ii) is not an employee of an undertaking that had applied for participation in the leniency program before the whistleblower submitted to the Office a conclusive piece evidence about the cartel agreement; and (iii) was the first person who has submitted to the Office a conclusive piece of evidence about the cartel agreement, or any other proof which is crucial for the Office’s inspection. The reward to the whistleblower will be paid out of the fines imposed on the participants of the particular cartel agreement, amounting to 1% of the sum of all fines imposed on all parties to the agreement, up to a maximum of EUR 100,000. The imposed fines, however, must also be actually paid; otherwise, the whistleblower will be entitled only to 50% of the reward so calculated, and up to the maximum amount of EUR 10,000. Under the Act, provision of information to the Office is not considered a breach of the relevant statutory or contractual confidentiality obligation on the part of the whistleblower. For example, the employer may not take any retaliatory action against the employee for breaching the confidentiality obligation if, with the aim of obtaining the reward, the employee cooperates with the Office and provides it with a conclusive piece of evidence. Furthermore, based on the whistleblower’s request, the Office is required not to disclose the whistleblower’s identity. In connection with the introduction of the reward principle, critical voices point out that the rewarded whistleblower may be the very person who has negotiated the cartel agreement and who could have financially benefited from the agreement. The simultaneous overlap of the application of the whistleblower program and leniency program may also be viewed as controversial; the whistleblower program should be of only complementary nature in relation to the leniency program.


Ľubomír Marek is the founder of the Slovak law firm Marek & Partners and its managing partner. Ľubomír specializes in banking and finance, mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity transactions and securities.

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