By Austin Max Scherer
This past July, Jonathan Taylor, a whistleblower that exposed bribery at his old firm SBM Offshore, was arrested on an Interpol red license. Taylor, a U.K. native, was found on vacation in Croatia. Since the arrest, Interpol dropped the warrant, while Croatia has kept Taylor within the country due to an extradition request by Monaco. The detention has brought a lot of criticism from different organizations like the European Union (EU) and the Resource Center on Media Freedom in Europe.
This blogpost will evaluate the following issues: Whether the extradition is legal? Whether the extradition violates the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive? And whether the requesting state, Monaco, is trying to protect an economically powerful entity in Monaco?
Legality of the Extradition
The first issue deals with whether the extradition is legal. An Interpol Red Notice alert can be issued to arrest someone for extradition if the subject falls within one of two categories: “Either the individual is: (1) awaiting a trial-prosecution for an offense for which he or she has been formally charged or (2) the individual has already been convicted of crime and is wanted in order to serve their lawful sentence.” Taylor does not suffice either of these requirements. A May 19 letter from the Resource Center on Media Freedom in Europe states: “Mr. Taylor is not charged with anything as there are no criminal proceedings, nor is there any execution of a judgment for which he is wanted…” Since neither requirement is fulfilled, the legality of the extradition appears questionable.
Violation of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive
The second issue evaluates whether the extradition violates the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive. The aims of this directive were to strengthen the legal protection available to whistleblowers and provide protection that would be consistent throughout all EU Member States. Further, it would be expected that member states would incorporate minimum standards featuring, “reporting channels for organizations of a certain size; and the level of protection afforded to persons that report breaches of Union law.” Member states would be expected to comply by December 17, 2021. The Supreme Court of Croatia confirmed Taylor’s status as a whistleblower. This confirmation further qualifies Taylor’s defense under the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive. Croatia is obligated to uphold the directive, which, “includes ensuring they are immune from civil and criminal liability for having blown the whistle.” This extradition would violate the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive. Since the withdrawal of the arrest warrant by Interpol, Monaco appears to act against Taylor in a retaliatory nature. This was confirmed again by Interpol on March 23, 2021.
Is the Requesting State Protecting an Economically Powerful Entity?
The final issue discusses whether the requesting state, Monaco, is trying to protect an economically powerful entity in Monaco? Taylor uncovered one of the most expansive corruption and bribery scandals. This led to criminal investigations in the U.K., U.S., Netherlands, Switzerland, and Brazil. SBM Offshore’s main office is in Monaco, and interestingly, Monaco has yet to initiate a single criminal investigation into a highly credible and well documented allegation of bribery and corruption, “on the part of SBM Offshore.” SMB Offshore earned $2.368 revenue in 2020; this comprises nearly a third of Monaco’s GDP. One could surmise from this quantitative information, that SBM Offshore has influence in Monaco. SBM Offshore is Monaco’s largest private-sector employer and with offices 400 meters away from Monaco’s prosecutor’s office, it has close ties to the state. Taylor stated the following, “It’s very political…they’re trying to discredit me and to show the world that Monaco doesn’t put up with whistleblowers, that companies are ‘safe” there.” This information illustrates exploitation of an individual and a country’s attempt to lure more businesses to its domain. A potential court case in Monaco would serve beneficial to SBM Offshore. This would essentially provide, to use a sports term, a homefield advantage. Furthermore, SBM Offshore has major influence in Monaco politics, which should create fears to not only Taylor but to all human rights organizations.
With SBM Offshore paying over $800 million in fines, SBM may want to make an example of Taylor. Croatia seems bound to meet the requirements of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive and return Taylor to the U.K. Arguably Croatia may take the position that it has until December 21 to comply with the EU Whistleblower Protective Directive and until it implements the Directive, it must follow its current national law. Taylor committed to answering any questions the Monaco government has, and if the Monaco government’s desire to speak to Taylor is purely judicial, then why does it require his extradition to Monaco if there is no criminal charge? In any event Taylor’s counsel is expected to request the Croatian Minister of Justice to use his discretion to not extradite Taylor. In addition, Taylor is likely, if necessary, to appeal to the Croatian Constitutional Court and the European Human Rights Court.
 Rising third year law student, Washington College of Law, American University; M.S., Finance, American Univ; B.S., George Washington Univ.
 Jo Couzens, Jonathan Taylor: Oil whistleblower’s Monaco extradition bid upheld, bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-57137065 (last visited May. 24, 2021).
 Extradition proceedings against Jonathan Taylor needs to end, article19.org, https://www.article19.org/resources/extradition-jonathan-taylor/ (last visited May. 24, 2021).
 Ana Myers, Urgent letter to Croatian Minister of Justice: Do not extradite Whistleblower Jonathan Taylor, Resource Center on Media Freedom in Europe, (May. 19, 2021).
 See Werner Berg, Sunny Mann, and Julia M. Wilson, Whistleblower Protection Directive, bakermckenzie.com, https://www.bakermckenzie.com/en/insight/publications/2020/02/whistleblower-protection-directive (last visited May. 24, 2021).
 Myers, supra note 6.
 SBM Offshore Full Year 2020 Earnings, sbmoffshore.com, https://www.sbmoffshore.com/?press-release=sbm-offshore-full-year-2020-earnings (last visited May. 24, 2021).
 Myers, supra note 6.
 Rettman, supra note 15.