ASIC improves processes to encourage whistleblowers

Legal advice is strongly recommended before an individual decides to file a report with ASIC

Australian regulator ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) has issued a press release detailing the complete procedure for whistleblowers who decide to contact the entity in relation to organizations and activities that are under the authority’s jurisdiction. The statement explains in details who can be a whistleblower, how information is reported to ASIC and how does the regulator protect informants and reply to filings.

An electronic filing system is available on the website of the Australian regulator for all who qualify as whistleblowers. Employees of companies, contractors and organization members within the same organization that decide to file a report are protected under the Corporations Act under a set criteria. The individual must be:

  • an officer (usually that means a director or secretary) of the company the disclosure is about
  • an employee of the company the disclosure is about, or
  • a contractor, or the employee of a contractor, who has a current contract to supply goods or services to the company the disclosure is about.

In addition the disclosure must be made to:

  • the company’s auditor, or a member of the company’s audit team
  • a director, secretary or senior manager of the company
  • a person authorized by the company to receive whistleblower disclosures, or ASIC.

The individual must identify when the disclosure is made and has to have reasonable grounds to suspect a wrongdoing under the Corporations Act or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act. The last condition outlined is that the filing must be done in ‘good faith’.

Under the Australian law, more specifically the Corporations Act two fundamental protections are provided to whistleblowers. The first one is against civil and criminal litigation for disclosing confidential information. Additionally if the employee is fired because of the revelation he may file for a court order to reinstate him/her to the original ort a comparable position.

The second protection under the Corporations Act is against criminalization of the whistleblower that criminalizes any attempts to victimize the whistleblower. Offenders will also be liable to compensate them if any damage is suffered.

ASIC advises all whistleblowers to seek legal advice before filing a report with the regulator as the information in the statement is generalized.

For the full press release visit ASIC’s website.

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