The Serious Fraud Office is promoting its “SFO Confidential” whistleblowing facility, which it describes as a service “for those who want to give information about serious or complex fraud or corruption on the understanding that their identity will not be inappropriately disclosed”:
“If you have inside information about serious or complex fraud or corruption, we want to hear from you. Your information could be about anyone including your employer, colleagues, competitors or associates.”
The SFO’s FAQs on this whistleblowing programme do make clear, however, that it can reveal an informant’s identity on what it describes as “a strictly need-to-know basis” – what that means is unclear – and if the SFO is ordered to disclose an identity by a judge.
The FAQs add that:
“We recognise that blowing the whistle or providing information on the activities of your employer, colleagues, competitors or associates isn’t easy. Our experienced staff will offer you any guidance you need and give you a professional and impartial service…if you are concerned that someone else’s offending is placing you in a vulnerable position, you can take control of the situation by reporting your concerns to SFO Confidential.”
The SFO has yet to charge a company under the Bribery Act 2010, and this new service may be seen in that light.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission and the UK Financial Services Authority both run whistleblowing programmes, as we describe in this post.
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