Thursday, 31 March 2016

People need to be able to speak up if they see fraud, bribery or harassment in their organisation. But in practice, there are several reasons they might not want to:

Sound familiar to you?

In Australia, there are few assurances for the potential whistleblower. In part, this led to the Senate Economics Committee Inquiry into Foreign Bribery in June 2015. It sought views on increased whistleblower protection and incentives to report foreign bribery. KordaMentha recommended:
  • Increased protection - Incorporate whistleblower protection into the Australian Criminal Code, to protect against any intimidation, harassment or disadvantage to someone making a good faith disclosure to a company’s management or a regulator; and 
  • Financial rewards - Establish a rewards program to compensate whistleblowers (as in the US) who provide original and compelling evidence that leads to the resolution of significant fraud, corruption and other criminal activity. 

We also recently held a series of round-table lunches around Australia, where we asked in-house and external counsel, regulators, and risk and compliance managers for their views on whistleblower protection and incentives. The survey showed that:

In February 2016, ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer stated ASIC's view that "There is a place for damages.... for compensation for people who do come forward... We do think the law needs to change here".

I agree. If people feel that they would be worse off as a result of speaking out, what's the incentive for them to blow the whistle?

More information
For more on our foreign bribery survey, read our recent Forensic Matters publications, Foreign Bribery: Views from the coal-face.

Our submission to the Senate Economics Committee Inquiry into Foreign Bribery can be found here (see page 2, submission no. 22).