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The Importance of Whistleblower Feedback

Thursday, 11 October 2018 07:57
In my former role as a local government counter-fraud manager, one of my responsibilities was assessing the volume and sources of whistleblowing reports raised by staff. My analysis would naturally identify some areas of the business that was less likely to be prone to fraud and other forms of wrongdoing compared to others. On the surface, it was easy to see a correlation between the levels of concerns raised in certain areas…
It takes a great deal of hard work by many people to make a company prosper. Yet it takes only one disgruntled employee to taint a company’s reputation and cause irreparable damage. In this digital age where almost everyone carries a smart phone, it is easier than ever for employees to voice concerns through social media and expose businesses to the glare of bad publicity. Underestimating the power of social…
Does the Governments anti-corruption strategy go far enough or is it a missed opportunity? In recent years, the UK government has made some important strides in its attempts to fight corruption. The Bribery Act 2010 and the Criminal Finances Act 2017 were important pieces of legislation that focused on economic crime. The UK was also the first G20 nation to create a public register of domestic company beneficial ownership, and…
While many businesses believe they are doing all they can to counter fraudulent activity, they often lack the latest data analytics, and that could prove costly. Many companies still rely on old-fashioned human intervention to spot potential fraud, but in the modern era they may well be missing a trick. Data analytics are an excellent tool and can prove to be surprisingly cost-effective. There are actually numerous tests available to…

How Tolerant is Your Business to Fraud?

Monday, 05 March 2018 14:11
As a fraud investigator for over 25 years, I’m aware that most, if not all, businesses will often tell you that they have zero tolerance to fraud. It will say this in most company’s policies and ticks a corporate governance compliance box reflecting that the company will take the strongest enforcement action in order to deal with fraud. Of course, whilst most companies have implemented zero tolerance policies the reality…

How to Prevent Fraud in Small Businesses

Monday, 19 February 2018 15:55
The most cost effective way to limit fraud losses is to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place. Easier said than done of course. Small businesses have significantly fewer anti-fraud controls than large organisations. This gap in fraud prevention and detection leaves small businesses susceptible to frauds that can cause significant harm to their limited finances. Small businesses are especially susceptible to fraud because they lack basic accounting controls,…
The recent media reports of abuses associated with charities working in the international aid sector has brought into sharp focus how charities deal with concerns raised in their industry relating to safeguarding failures and other forms of wrongdoing. Issues such as bullying, harassment, or sexual misconduct are just a few of the many forms of wrongdoing which charities are vulnerable to. Charities work with people who may be vulnerable to abuse…
Suspicions of fraud that arise in the workplace almost always triggers the need for a fraud investigation. Allegations such as fraud, theft, bribery and corruption are just some of the situations that may arise in an organisation which require investigating. Often, employers try to investigate matters internally through formal interviews with the employees involved, which are usually carried out by Human Resources personnel. When the allegations are more serious, employers…

Whistleblowing Tips for Small Businesses

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 09:55
Small businesses may not think that it is necessary to introduce a whistleblowing policy or procedure in their organisation. Many will mistakenly think that wrongdoing is more likely to occur in larger organisations where it is more likely to go unnoticed or can be easily covered up. However, smaller businesses are often exposed to many types of wrongdoing usually because they have not taken appropriate action to encourage staff to…
Care home providers across the UK and Ireland are required by law to provide national standards of quality and safety to people they care for.  People in care homes should be cared for in an effectively managed, safe, and compassionate environment. Care Homes are often monitored and inspected by regulators to ensure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety.  Regulators often publish what they find, including performance ratings to…

An anti-fraud solution for charities

Wednesday, 26 July 2017 08:45
Like most sectors, charities are vulnerable to fraud and can be easy targets for criminals. With an annual UK income in excess of £69 billion it is no surprise that there are significant threats to charities involving fraud and other forms of financial criminality. According to statistics from the 2016 Annual Fraud Indicator report fraud, is estimated to cost the charity sector over 2 billion pounds a year. There are…
A recent scandal within the Financial Sector created a media frenzy when news broke that Barclays CEO Jes Staley had been investigated for attempting to unmask a whistleblower within his organisation. The news deals a fresh blow to the bank's efforts to reform its culture and repair its reputation in the wake of the Libor-rigging scandal. The consequences of Staley’s actions resulted in his £1.3 million bonus payment being cut…
It’s estimated by non-governmental organisations that nearly 46 million people are enslaved around the world in 2017. The majority of them are found in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan, although no country is immune from the problem and there may be several thousand people in this position in the UK. To owners and managers of British businesses, this may seem like a remote problem, but the nature of the…
In America, the Wells Fargo fake accounts scandal drew lots of media attention over the last year. The scandal highlighted a fraudulent scheme whereby the bank's employees were caught opening millions of fake accounts for unsuspecting customers. As a result of the scandal, Wells Fargo had been ordered to pay $185 million to settle charges against them. In the aftermath, several Wells Fargo employees alleged that they had raised their…
Whistleblower protection is essential for safeguarding the public interest and for fostering a culture of integrity and accountability within organisations. While many businesses are becoming more proactive in developing policies that clearly define how they will protect whistleblowers, there are still many businesses who appear to have their eyes firmly closed when it comes to promoting a culture where employees feel comfortable to speak up. Clearly defined whistleblowing policies provide…
The Bribery Act 2010 remains one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation dealing with the threat of bribery and corruption across the globe. Proof of how far this anti-corruption legislation travels across international boundaries, was demonstrated recently in the High Court when the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) agreed a £671 million settlement with Rolls Royce plc and Rolls Royce Energy Systems Inc. to settle allegations of widespread bribery of…

The best whistleblowing and anti-fraud solution

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 15:07
As a counter-fraud investigator of many years, nothing surprises me when it comes to the various types of devious behaviour perpetrated by fraudsters against businesses up and down the country. Most frauds that are committed against businesses share common characteristics such as weak governance and poor financial controls. Countless frauds occur against all types of businesses where the perpetrators are often trusted employees. Just ask the Charity Commission, whose new…

A forward thinking whistleblowing solution

Tuesday, 01 November 2016 14:14
Having the confidence to speak up about illegal or fraudulent actions which, once reported, could result in unwanted consequences for the whistleblower is often easier said than done. Concerns for whistleblowers include impact on future career prospects, stress and reaction of colleagues. Employees can be left with the dilemma - should they speak up or remain silent? What protection is actually available if they do decide to speak up and…
There’s much more that could be done to clamp down on fraud and other wrongdoing in local government, argues SEAN MACAULEY of AAB. Having spent 22 years with a local authority and worked as a Fraud Manager, I’ve understandably spent a lot of time thinking about the way in which potential wrongdoing can be reduced. While the vast majority of elected members and council employees are no doubt honest, it…

New criminal finance bill targeting Employers

Tuesday, 27 September 2016 07:01
Prime Minister Theresa May is pushing forward an expansion of current legislation to target white-collar crime originally proposed by former PM David Cameron in May. The proposed plans are intended not only to encourage bosses to do more to prevent staff from engaging in fraud, but also promote a culture of corporate responsibility so that threats are eliminated prior to taking root in an organisation. The new plans have been…
In recent years many organisations up and down the country have implemented whistleblowing arrangements and other controls, with the aim of encouraging staff to speak up and help stamp out fraud and other wrongdoing. However transparency in the workplace must come from the top of an organisation right down to the bottom. Failure to set the tone in this way can prove costly. The link between unethical behaviour and the…
Despite the introduction of the UK’s Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and the subsequent Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 which provided much needed protection for whistleblowers, employees in many industries across the UK have often continued to suffer mistreatment or retaliation for having the courage to report genuine wrongdoing in their work place. This has led to a UK workforce fearing reprisals from speaking up, a fact reported by…
Care Home providers across the UK are entrusted to care for the vulnerable and provide national standards of quality and safety required by law. National Standards cover a number of areas such as how patients and persons are treated, the safety and protection of people receiving care and people’s dignity and privacy. Most persons in the health care industry are honest, ethical and dedicated individuals. However, by the nature of…
The term 'Prevention is better than cure' is a well-known proverb in the anti-fraud industry used by fraud specialists when demonstrating that it's easier to stop fraud happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it has happened. This is of course very true and many industries across the UK should aim to put preventative measures at the top of their corporate governance agenda when securing the…
Implementation of a whistleblowing hotline provides businesses with an effective tool to provide their employees with a confidential route to report wrongdoing in the workplace and aid global enterprises in combating fraud, bribery, corruption and financial malpractice. However, planning a rollout of global whistleblowing lines across territories can be challenging. This is especially true when setting up whistleblowing lines for your organisation when it may be necessary to transfer personal…

Tough new fines loom for safety slip-ups

Monday, 21 March 2016 14:27
If you thought a breach of health and safety regulations would just result in a rap over the knuckles, new sentencing guidelines may make you think again, argues Sean McAuley of accountancy firm AAB. From 1st February 2016, the sentencing guidelines for health and safety regulations became a great deal tougher. Although the advice is issued for courts in England & Wales, it’s likely to be considered within the Scottish…

The Long And Winding Road

Monday, 09 November 2015 09:25
Volkswagen’s troubles are far from over, but could this all have been avoided? Over a month has passed since the Volkswagen emission scandal hit headlines around the globe, but the full extent of the damage may not become apparent for a long time to come. The International Council on Clean Transportation, in conjunction with West Virginia University, raised the alarm during an investigation into why US diesel cars seemed able…
Since coming into force in 2011, the Bribery Act 2010, widely described as the toughest and furthest-reaching anti-corruption legislation in international law, has claimed dozens of scalps. And just last month, a Scottish cabling company set a new precedent after self-reporting a breach of the Act’s landmark Section 7, which created the groundbreaking new corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery. Fife-based Brand-Rex Limited notified the Crown Office in June…

See, Hear and Speak Up

Monday, 18 May 2015 11:22
The UK's Public Information Disclosure Act 1998 was introduced in order to ensure there was comprehensive protection in place for employees so that they could come forward and report serious wrongdoing in their workplace, by making a 'protected disclosure', without fear of being victimised or even dismissed. Protected disclosures included disclosures such as reporting that a criminal offence had been committed, a failure to comply with statutory legislation or that…

Whistleblowing - much more than a tick box

Friday, 20 February 2015 00:00
Most organisations today are faced with the increasing threat of internal fraud in the workplace. Employee the costs businesses across the globe billions each year. The financial losses fail to reflect the full picture of course. Business owners who suffer internal fraud often find it is the damage to their organisations reputation that is the most harmful. The vast majority of people working in businesses are honest and dedicated to…

From feast to famine - time to refocus

Friday, 20 February 2015 00:00
We are experiencing tough times in oil and gas at the moment. The oil price is putting the squeeze on margins; projects are being put on hold, and exploration is viewed currently as an unnecessary cost, rather than a means of generating future revenues. In challenging times, many businesses focus on cost minimisation. During the feast, the emphasis may have drifted away from cost control, with the main focus being…

Fraud Prevention and Investigation Appointment

Tuesday, 04 November 2014 00:00
Fraud Prevention and Investigation Appointment We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sean McAuley as Senior Manager within our Fraud Prevention & Investigation service line. Sean, who is a fully accredited Counter-Fraud investigation officer and Manager, joins AAB from Dundee City Council where he was the Key National Fraud Initiative contact working in their Revenues Division. Sean's career has spanned twenty-two years in local Government Departments whose remit was…

Whistleblowing and Fraud Detection

Thursday, 10 July 2014 00:00
Despite the very many different cultural beliefs and nuances worldwide, it would appear that in terms of Fraud detection, whistleblowing/hotline mechanisms for organisations and their employees are the most successful the world over. Figures released in the recently published ACFE 2012 Report to the Nations, showed that information received via whistleblowing/hotline mechanisms, accounted for just over 43% of all Fraud cases detected worldwide. Africa had the highest percentage of Fraud…

Don't Ignore The Messenger

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 00:00
In a recently published report where 1000 employees with first-hand experience of whistleblowing/use of hotlines were interviewed, it was found that 600 of them received no response or feedback, either positive or negative, from their management. Any employee who has made the (sometimes difficult) decision to highlight their concerns or pass information via an internal reporting mechanism, should not be treated with such utter disregard. How likely are they to…

Whistleblowing Reforms

Tuesday, 04 June 2013 12:48
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 takes effect from 25 June. In terms of whistleblowing/hotlines, this new piece of legislation aims to amend the protection offered to those persons who highlight their concerns and pass information. The changes involve - Invoking a public interest test with regard to qualifying diclosures; The removal of the 'good faith' requirement, from the definition of a protected disclosure; Tribunals will be empowered to…

Why Didn't We See It?

Friday, 01 June 2012 09:36
There was a substantial fraud in our company and we missed it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Conducting an enquiry after the event may show that there were many warning signs or red flags present. If only we had recognised the warning signs or knew what the red flags were, we could perhaps have prevented the fraud or considerably reduced the loss. It is simply not the case that larger…

Deferred Prosecution Agreements

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 10:35
Another good reason to implement SeeHearSpeakUp in your organisation… Businesses should welcome the recent announcement by the Solicitor General, where Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA's) are to be introduced in the UK. When an organisation comes forward and admits to 'wrong-doing', under a DPA, the organisation will pay a fine and more than likely, pay some compensation to the parties who were 'wronged'. When entering into such an agreement, the prosecuting…

Hotline Failed to Blow Whistle

Tuesday, 14 February 2012 12:12
Another year, another instance of corporate misconduct and ethics failure. There are few smiling faces at Olympus the Japanese camera maker, after it found itself exposed to unwanted and negative international headlines when it dismissed their Chief Executive, only to see him whistle blow on events within the organisation. It is alleged that Olympus has made some excessive and dubious over-payments involving a corporate acquisition. The organisation has apparently admitted…

A Warning for Investors

Tuesday, 14 February 2012 12:11
Given recent events, where the Serious Fraud Office won a civil recovery order against a principal shareholder of a company that had admitted corruption – is it now the time for Investors to ask probing questions on the adequate procedures in place to mitigate bribery, of the companies in which they are investing? Mabey Engineering, has agreed to pay back the £130,000 it received through share dividends derived from contracts…
The Benjamin Franklin quote could not be more appropriate given the global financial crisis, austerity measures, new anti-bribery legislation and the continued threat of fraud and financial misconduct in the workplace. SeeHearSpeakUp, the unique external and independent whistleblowing/hotline service provides an easy and accessible route for employees to expose, not only unwanted practices, such as fraud, theft, financial misconduct and corruption, but matters covering health & safety, bullying, discrimination and…