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News : Whistleblower Hotline to Help Central Bank Clean Up Financial Institutions
March 20, 2014 -- The Central Bank has proposed setting up a dedicated "whistleblowers hotline" to handle allegations of wrongdoing at banks and other financial institutions.
Under the plan, a centralised "Whistleblowers Desk" will be established to handle so-called protected disclosures – reports of wrongdoing or potential rule breaches – including by personnel – within regulated entities.
It follows on from new legislation introduced last year.
The Central Bank, which includes the Financial Regulator, has been criticised in the past for failing to spot regulatory lapses. Introducing a system to allow insiders to report their concerns – either anonymously or openly – is seen as a step towards a more robust regulatory system.
Yesterday it published a consultation paper setting out its planned system for handling "whistleblowers".
Under the plan as it stands, the new "desk" can be contacted by phone, post or email. It will be the primary point of contact for whistleblowers and manage the overall structure for dealing with disclosure – but will not "filter" complaints.
Anyone making a tip-off will be encouraged to leave their name and contact details, but anonymous disclosures will be accepted and investigated.
The identity of whistleblowers will be protected, in line with legislation and best practice, according to the Central Bank proposals.
To that end, the plan is to restrict access within the Central Bank to information about individual whistleblowers, as well as maintaining their confidentiality externally.
In what is likely to be a controversial decision, the Central Bank said it does not intend to keep whistle- blowers informed about follow-up action, if any, that has been taken as a result of their disclosure.
That is to protect the rights of all parties in line with statutory requirements, the Central Bank said. But it means those putting themselves at risk by making contact with the authorities may never know if the tip-off was acted on.
The Central Bank said its proposals are based on best practice in the UK, US, Australia and Canada.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2014