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AfricaMoney | June 29, 2017

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Mauritius encourages whistle blowing to combat corporate corruption

Mauritius encourages whistle blowing to combat corporate corruption

Mauritius is taking a firm step towards combating corporate corruption and promoting business transparency through the Whistleblowing Council, a joint initiative of the Mauritius Institute of Directors (MIoD) and Transparency Mauritius, which proposes recommendations for the implementation of a law to that effect under a recent paper entitled “Whistleblowing Mauritius.”

The Whistleblowing Council, a joint initiative of the Mauritius Institute of Directors (MIoD) and Transparency Mauritius, has recently issued a concept paper entitled “Whistleblowing Mauritius”, which proposes recommendations for the implementation of a law to that effect. This document was handed over to  Financial Services Secretary, Sudarshan Bhadain.

The term ‘whistleblowing’ refers to the denunciation, by an employee or any other person, of corruption, fraud, and illegal activities which could harm public interest.

Among its recommendations, the council proposes an amendment in the Companies Act which would stipulate that companies have to establish a mechanism to record denunciation in strict confidentiality and to act as a consequence of such information disclosure.

“Whistleblowing is a fundamental tool to fight against corruption that would allow for avoidance of numerous scandals, as well as their potential consequences, on the company. The employees, among others, are the best placed to know how a company, an organisation, a public institution or private entity reacts in terms of failure to respect laws. However, these people fear reprisals upon triggering an alert and highlighting these offences, wherefrom the importance of allowing whistleblowers to feel safe becomes critical to securing their trust,” explains Jacques Dinan, president of the Whistleblowing Council.

The Whistleblowing Council also recommends the implementation of an Independent Whistleblowing Service (IWS) which would have a key role to play in the management of this practice in Mauritius.

The IWS’ role will be to make companies and employees sensitive to whistleblowing and to establish procedures which would assure the anonymity and confidentiality of an employee or any other person who decide to disclose a sensitive fact. The concept paper also recommends that the IWS establishes a free calling service so that whistleblowers can highlight offences in strict anonymity,” notes Rajen Bablee, director of Transparency Mauritius.

The implementation of a law on whistleblowing will also have to consider the specificities of the Mauritian legal system. It is necessary, besides, to consider the rules which apply in such trials as well as already existing provisions in Employment Rights Act, Employment Relations Act, the Penal code, the Civil code, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Constitution of Mauritius, among others.

“This concept paper follows upon the recent announcement of the Prime Minister on the new measures against corruption and money laundering. We especially wish to open the debate on the importance of whistleblowing and the possible implementation of laws on this subject. Whistleblowing is part of international law since 2003, because it includes an agreement against corruption which was ratified by 140 countries. The Whistleblowing Council was moreover created because this practice is of major importance to support principles of corporate good governance,” adds Jane Valls, CEO, MIoD.
Finally, it is to be noted that the Whistleblowing Council, which was created in 2014, aims to make companies sensitive to whistleblowing and undertake research on best practices to protect whistleblowers. The council was created following the signature of an agreement between the MIoD and Transparency Mauritius.

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