Word of the Week: Whistleblowing
What is a Whistleblower?
According to the National Whistleblower Center, a whistleblower is someone who reports waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, or dangers to public health and safety to someone who is in the position to rectify the wrongdoing. A whistleblower typically works inside of the organization where the wrongdoing is taking place; however, being an agency or company “insider” is not essential to serving as a whistleblower. What matters is that the individual discloses information about wrongdoing that otherwise would not be known.
Did you know that the three main principles of whistleblowing management are trust, impartiality, and protection?
Whistleblowing may be stressful for an employee or insider as they may fear their anonymity can’t be preserved, or will there be retaliation against them, will they be able to keep their job, and more.
Here are some considerations to take in account when creating a whistleblower compliance program:
Ensure anonymous reporting: When filing a report, a whistleblower should have confidence in their anonymity is well-kept.
Outline the anti-retaliation safeguards: The whistleblower policy should contain expectations around zero retaliation of any kind, and what are the safeguards protecting whistleblowers.
Easy and secure reporting channels: Offer multiple reporting mechanisms, however people who are reporting on them should know that these channels are secure.
Communication: Even if there are constraints preventing you from sharing the outcome of the investigation, it’s crucial to provide at least a minimum of feedback to the whistleblower. This can be, for example, through anonymized reports at regular intervals to inform staff and the general public about any whistleblowing incidents.
What other advice would you offer for successful whistleblowing compliance programs?
Financial institutions and whistleblowing
Two important, recent cases come to mind in which thanks to whistleblowers, misconduct and dirty money were exposed.
A whistleblower revealed alleged money laundering in Danske Bank that processed $150 billion in suspicious payments.
A whistleblower leaked the details of accounts of about 30,000 clients of Credit Suisse, exposing drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption, and other serious crimes.
Did you know that whistleblowers and journalists who report on potential wrongdoing can be prosecuted in Switzerland?
In 2022, facing pressure from UN officials, Swiss politicians are discussing scraping that law.
There are more cases involving financial crimes that were revealed thanks to whistleblowers, which ones did you find most interesting?