Protect attended the Voices of Justice International Conference on Corporate Crime Reporting and Whistleblower’s Protection, organised by the Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity at Coventry University in partnership with Constantine Cannon, WhistleblowersUK and MLROs.com
The conference, held to explore the close relationship between corporate crime reporting and whistleblowing within the public and private sector, and to demonstrate the importance of whistleblowers within this field, began with an introductory presentation, including a keynote speech from Rt Hon. Baroness Kramer on the purpose of the APPG for Whistleblowing and the importance of placing the whistleblower’s perspective at the forefront to bring about effective legislative change.
This was followed by sessions on comparing various countries’ attitudes on corporate crime reporting and legal protections for whistleblowers outside and within the EU, and distressing experiences told by whistleblowers themselves.
Extensive talks and debates were held about implementing rewards systems for whistleblowers in the UK similar to America, such as the rewards systems of the Communities Futures Trading Commission, Internal Revenue Service, and Securities and Exchange Commission. Whilst it was argued that the UK should adopt a culture of rewarding whistleblowers for bravely raising concerns as opposed to solely when they face a loss for doing so, some pointed out the issue of applicability of rewards schemes for concerns outside of financial malpractice, for instance safeguarding, where there is no financial penalty to divide up.
The inefficiencies of whistleblowing arrangements for those in the financial sector were explored and the outstanding culture of fear, futility and reprisal. Dr Constantino Grasso highlighted the significance of the new EU whistleblowing Directive, especially considering that only 10 out of 28 EU countries currently have extensive legal whistleblowing protections. There were discussions on the need to investigate and eliminate the link between whistleblowers raising concerns and consequential retaliation and persecution, as well as an exploration of how this practice has been ingrained culturally for centuries. The tales of the brave actions by whistleblowers John Christensen, Mark Lille, Martin Woods and Martin Bright (on behalf of Katharine Gunn) illustrated the difficulty of not only trying to enable their concerns to be addressed but also the psychological and at times life-threatening obstacles faced as a result of whistleblowing.
Even though diverse perspectives and experiences were expressed that day, one key message was made incredibly clear – that whistleblowers are vital information providers in order to combat wrongdoing, achieve justice and invoke change in society. This was particularly emphasised by the fact that 40% of enforcement investigations and actions taken by the CFTC involve whistleblowers. Furthermore, it was highlighted that Wikileaks, despite its controversy, was instrumental in creating legislative change and the EU whistleblowing Directive probably would not have come into fruition without Luxleaks whistleblower Antoine Deltour. Strengthening legal protections and reporting channels for whistleblowers is crucial not only to safeguard the culture, integrity and reputation of public and private organisations, but to protect the public interest at large.
By Protect Adviser Nneka Egbuji