'Your identity is safe with us', UK finance watchdog tells whistleblowers

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s financial regulator launched a public campaign on Wednesday to reassure whistleblowers that their identities will be protected as the watchdog beefs up efforts to uncover wrongdoing.

FILE PHOTO: The full moon is seen rising behind skyscrapers at Canary Wharf and the London skyline, London, Britain, September 14, 2019. Picture taken on September 14, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that whistleblowers passing on information will have a dedicated case manager, with every report review and identities protected.

“We want all whistleblowers to feel welcomed by us and to feel safe because of us,” Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said.

“We listen to all whistleblowers and, if they shine a light on serious misconduct, we want to make sure we act responsibly.”

The watchdog said it has increased resources and staffing to support whistleblowers. Individuals can choose to remain anonymous, and if they do share any information about themselves, the FCA said it will keep this safe.

“This includes not confirming the existence of a whistleblower when making enquiries, unless legally obliged to do so,” it added.

The FCA’s rules require firms it regulates to have arrangements in place for staff to raise concerns in a confidential way that avoids any victimisation. Firms must also appoint a whistleblowers’ “champion”.

Mark Turner, managing director at Duff & Phelps’ regulatory practice, said current whistleblowing protections don’t seem to be working, with many ignored, unsupported or even left financially exposed.

“As a result, many whistleblowers are now turning to social media or platforms like ‘Truth Teller’ to voice concerns. This is not a good outcome for firms, as they have no control over what is said and how it is investigated,” Turner said.

It was promising that the FCA recognises that more needs to be done to create a safe space for employees to speak up, he said. “Let’s hope that this time they can drive real change.”

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