On Thursday, the 12th of September and Friday, the 13th of September, Milan was the stage of the UIA seminar on Corporate Compliance and Internal Investigations. Taking into account the relevance of developments regarding whistleblowing for corporate compliance and internal investigations, it was no surprise that whistleblowing was addressed by various panels.
During the panel dedicated exclusively to whistleblowers, it was interesting to learn about the whistleblowing management best practices of one of Italy's leading banks and hear insights from law firms.
As the UIA panel acknowledged that the issue of whistleblowers is a complex and growing problem, that requires careful consideration. Workers are protected against detriment and (in the case of employees) from being dismissed where they have "blown the whistle" on misconduct, whether in the public or private sector (e.g. financial sector), where this is deemed to be a protected disclosure. As a result of the introduction of whistleblowing laws in many jurisdictions, employers have introduced whistleblowing procedures to encourage employees to come forward with their concerns internally. When an internal investigation is being conducted and employees may be considering how best to protect their own position, there is a heightened risk that they will whistle blow to the authorities. Companies will need to manage this risk to ensure that the confidentiality of the internal investigation is not compromised.
With the protection afforded to whistleblowers varying from one jurisdiction to another, so do the potential risks of criminal exposure from mishandling information they use to support their disclosures. The approach taken in each jurisdiction to reporting infringements and to enforcing the rights of whistleblowers varies, as do the potential financial incentives, which can raise further issues.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.