We are building a resource for international whistleblowers to learn more about the laws in their own country. We expect to share more laws providing incentives for whistleblowing here as countries adopt them. The countries currently covered in our report are Australia, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom.
In a survey of G20 countries, Australia ranked near the top for its laws protecting public sector whistleblowers but in the middle of the pack for those governing private sector whistleblowers.
Government employees looking for information about protections should look to the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which went into effect in January 2014.
Employees of businesses reporting fraud should be sure to read about the government inquiry into the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The investigation has called for improvements in the ways it handles whistleblowers as well as the exploration of incentives for people providing tips. For those who wish to continue, start with the information sheet for whistleblowers created by ASIC.
Australia behind world benchmark on whistleblower protection
Will Ockenden, ABC, September 9, 2014
Whistleblower reform call
Ruth Williams, The Age, June 27, 2014
Rewards sought for corporate informants
Ruth Williams, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 23, 2014
Australian whistleblowers provide tip-offs for US scheme amid criticism of laws at home
Ruth Williams, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 20, 2014
ASIC has let down CBA’s victims: whistleblower
Jeff Morris, The Age, June 19, 2013
The Canada Revenue Agency offers incentives for tips about international tax evasion. We discussed the procedure for reporting to Canada’s tax agency in this blog post.
The Ontario Securities Commission has been considering whether to authorize rewards since 2010. A concept paper on the discussion is expected to be published this fall.
Canada’s securities regulators have two hotlines for whistleblowers but do not offer incentives. The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada has had a total of 37 calls since February 2011, but only 8 tips in 2013. The Mutual Fund Dealers Association just established its hotline whistleblower program in February. In contrast, the Securities and Exchange Commission received 62 tips from Canada through its whistleblower program in Fiscal Year 2012.
Retaliation Protections: The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act was passed in 2006 to protect government employees but has been described as an “exercise in futility” as only six cases of wrongdoing have been found and no whistleblower has received a remedy through it. There are no nationwide protections against retaliation for the private sector: Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have passed protections available within their jurisdictions. In a 2014 report about protections at G20 countries, Canada’s private sector laws ranked near the bottom (along with Italy, Saudia Arabia and India). Only Russia was ranked worse.
Why Canada’s whistleblower hotlines are staying silent – Barbara Shecter, Financial Post, May 24, 2014
Canada’s crackdown on government whistleblowers – David Hutton, The Toronto Star, December 20, 2013
Japan passed the Whistleblower Protection Act in 2004 (effective starting in 2006) to respond to the major corporate scandals following the turn of the century. It protects both public sector and private sector employees reporting wrongdoing by their employer. The law promotes disclosure within the organization and requires additional standards to be met to justify external reporting. It also excludes some important areas, such as information about violations of various tax laws.
Japan does not provide rewards to whistleblowers.
Japan whistleblower sidelined despite court ruling – Associated Press, Fox News, July 11, 2012
The study of G20 protections for whistleblowers ranked the UK near the top for its protection of both public and private sector employees. However, England has yet to announce rewards for whistleblowers outside of its program compensating antitrust informants.
Whistleblower treatment is often ‘shocking’, say MPs – BBC, August 1, 2014
Whistleblowing is important source of intelligence – Ninth Report of Session 2014-15 into Whistleblowing, HC 593 by the Public Accounts Committee – August 1, 2014