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Australian Securities Commission and Federal Police Add to Calls for Greater Whistleblower Protections

Posted  March 30, 2017

An Australian parliamentary joint committee considering greater protections for the country’s would-be corporate and other whistleblowers recently received two high-profile submissions. First, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) made clear it supports extending whistleblower protections to more individuals—including former employees and associated contractors and staff, independent tax whistleblowers, and tax advisers—and creating a supportive compensation framework for those who blow the whistle on corporate malfeasance. ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft has backed offering money to whistleblowers in recognition of the risks they take, including potential damage to their career prospects. The ASIC submission stopped short, however, of calling for a US-style rewards program in which whistleblowers could potentially share in government recoveries.

Second a submission from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raised concerns about corporate cover-ups and informed the joint committee that in the AFP’s view, the law must be changed to help employees speak out and be protected. The AFP noted that foreign bribery scandals involving Australian companies would “most likely not be detected at all” without tips from company insiders exposed to the schemes. The submission also cites the significant disincentives whistleblowers face for speaking out, including both personal and financial costs. “In the absence of proactive measures to assist whistleblowers and offset future personal and financial costs,” the AFP wrote, “it is difficult for law enforcement to encourage cooperation and obtain valuable information.”

Constantine Cannon’s own submission to the committee—in which we highlight the success of the US whistleblower regime and urge Australia to adopt a similar system—is available on the official parliamentary inquiry site.

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