"SFO Confidential" - Whistleblowing Hotline launched
Yesterday the Serious Fraud Office launched a whistleblowing service for the confidential reporting of suspected fraud and corruption. The service, named 'SFO Confidential', is now available for individuals to call to report corruption in the workplace. The Serious Fraud Office stated that the "reporting service is designed to cater specifically for people who, though not themselves the victim of fraud or directly disadvantaged by corruption, have knowledge through their professional activities of situations that appear to be suspicious. Whistleblowers can call a special number and talk through their concerns with an “SFO Confidential” advisor. A whistleblower’s identity will be securely protected, though contact can be made anonymously if preferred."
The SFO's implementation of a whistleblowing hotline may worry companies who have experienced corruption issues in the past. The hotline clearly increases the risk of issues being highlighted anonymously by disgruntled employees or competitors. The introduction of the hotline comes 4 months after the date that the Bribery Act 2010 came into force. Under this Act, commercial organisations can be held liable for bribes paid by those acting on their behalf, even if the bribe is paid outside the UK. A business which implements "adequate procedures" to prevent bribery has a complete defence to this kind of charge under the Act.
The hotline also comes at a time of increased enforcement by the Serious Fraud Office. During the course of last week the SFO announced two new prosecutions for corruption. See our previous alerts on this:
- Innospec Ltd: Former director charged with fraud and corruption offences
- Bribery Newsflash - SFO charge Dahdaleh with corruption offences).
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