Thursday 18 January 2018

Surge in number of whistleblowers reporting suspected breaches in financial services law to the Central Bank

Whistleblowers made 44
Whistleblowers made 44 "protected disclosures" to the Central Bank during the reporting period, from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016

Simon Rowe

There has been a surge in the number of whistleblowers reporting suspected breaches of financial services law to the Central Bank.

Ireland's banking regulator received more than 40 reports to its whistleblower hotline last year compared to just one report in the first year of its operation in 2014.

Whistleblowers made 44 "protected disclosures" during the reporting period, from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

The surge in reporting follows the introduction in 2013 of new legislation to give whistleblowers protection when making disclosures to the Central Bank. As well as protecting whistleblowers, the "protected disclosures" law places new obligations on certain categories of persons in firms to disclose breaches of financial services legislation to the Central Bank.

"The matters reported under the disclosures were investigated; where required, appropriate action was taken to address any issues that arose," said a Central Bank spokesperson.

Whistleblowers making a disclosure under the new law must have reasonable grounds for believing there has been a breach of financial services legislation or the concealment or destruction of evidence relating to such an offence.

Crucially, the "protected disclosures" law means that whistleblowers are protected from civil liability, and their employer may not penalise them for making the disclosure. Furthermore, an employer may be prosecuted for penalising an employee who made a "protected disclosure".

In April, it was reported that a whistleblower, using the "protected disclosure" law, alleged that AIB misled regulators on its progress in dealing with loans which are in arrears.

The claims were made to the Central Bank and the European Central Bank.

A spokesperson for the Central Bank said that while the bank cannot comment on specific allegations "any correspondence received by the Central Bank through its protected disclosure channel is treated seriously and examined thoroughly".

The whistleblower has worked in a division of AIB which handles bad loans, it is believed.

Sunday Indo Business

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