Sunday, March 13, 2011

Corporate America Takes A Second Look At "Whistleblowing"

Regulators and corporate compliance offices are re-examining practices surrounding anonymous tips involving corporate corruption. There have been some recent cases where anonymous tips resulted in allegations, but without evidence, the tips became hearsay.

The saga regarding the French automotive maker Renault began last August, when a group of Renault managers passed on an anonymous tip accusing a senior Renault official of negotiating a bribe.

Four months later, Renault in January 2011 dismissed the executive and two other managers. The employees proclaimed their innocence, but the company's chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, stated publicly that the company had evidence against them. But, over the past two months, Renault and its lawyers have failed to produce any evidence against the trio.

Renault is now admitting that they may have been "tricked" into making the allegations and the company is preparing  to reinstate the three managers for lack of evidence.

While anonymous tips are important and vital to exposing corruption- a tip is just a tip unless it leads investigators to damaging evidence against the accused. An anonymous tip should always include some kind of evidence for the allegation(s) being made or the tip may not be taken seriously. Corporate America  typically responds to anonymous tips of corruption with a knee-jerk reaction, shoot and ask questions later. Allegations are really only "gossip" unless they include information or identify where information can be found pertaining to the allegations.

Anonymous messaging and the use of anonymous email to expose corporate corruption or any crime is an important tool to bring criminals to justice.

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