THE SERIOUS FRAUD OFFICE (SFO) CREATES A WHISTLEBLOWING HOTLINE
On 1 November 2011, the SFO launched a confidential hotline (called “SFO Confidential”) together with an online reporting form to facilitate reporting suspected fraud or corruption.
The SFO Director, Richard Alderman, said:
“I want people to come forward and tell us if they think there is a fraud or corruption going on in their workplace. Company executives, staff, professional advisers, business associates of various kinds or trade competitors can talk to us in confidence.”
The SFO’s whistleblowing hotline is aimed not at victims of serious or complex fraud , but at those who want to give information about serious or complex fraud or corruption on the understanding that their identity will not be inappropriately disclosed. The service is confidential and the SFO has agreed that it will only reveal the whistleblower’s identity on a strictly “need-to-know basis” or if a Judge orders the SFO to do so. The information provided will be stored centrally by the SFO and any information sent via the SFO’s website will be encrypted immediately. Such information will be handled by trained staff at the SFO.
However, it remains to be seen whether the SFO whistle blowing hotline will increase the number of corruption offences enforced by the SFO. In the US, the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 provoked a large number of investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), due to the rewards provided to whistleblowers who can be entitled to a maximum of 30% of monetary sanctions exceeding US$1m that the government recovers as a result of their assistance.
For example, in March this year, the sum of US$96m was paid to Cheryl Eckard under the Dodd-Frank Act as a reward for acting as a whistleblower at the conclusion of a US$750m settlement with GlaxoSmithKline.
For further information on this topic, please read the blog of my colleague Adam Greaves posted on 23 October 2011.