A whistleblow program is one of the most effective measures in the prevention and detection of fraud
According to research (ACFE Report to the Nations - 2022), it is estimated that each year 5% of revenue is lost due to fraud. In fact, fraud losses are two times higher in organizations without whistleblow channels. The report confirms that a whistleblow channel is one of the most effective measures to reduce the loss of fraud by 50%. Not only is it an important measure in the prevention of fraud, it equips organizations with a signal function allowing them to more easily identify fraud, being the first to know about it and avoid incremental fraud losses.
In view of the Belgian regulations (based on EU Directive 2019/1937) with respect to the protection of persons who report breaches of Union Law, organizations will need to organize an internal whistleblowing channel and ensure the protection of the whistleblower. More specifically the scope entails:
- As of 15 February 2023: legal entity with +250 employees
- As of 17 December 2023: legal entity with +50 employees
These organizations are required to enable a potential whistleblower (usually an employee) to anonymously report on information, including reasonable suspicions, about actual or potential breaches that have taken place or are highly likely to take place within the work-related context. The scope of these breaches is very broad and includes: Public procurement, product safety, food safety, privacy, security of network, consumer protection, transport safety, protection of the environment, public health, tax fraud and evasion etc.
Is it just a matter of compliance?
Demonstrating compliance should be a key objective but more important are the opportunities that will be derived from an effective whistleblow program.
Besides preventing and quickly detecting fraud and consequently mitigating financial fraud risks, a whistleblow program including an internal reporting channel, is a fundamental part of the organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility, it’s a way to respect employees and promote an open and transparent culture. Organizations that understand the positive value and effect on their reputation will benefit from more trustworthy relationships with their stakeholders.
How Grant Thornton Belgium can help you?
The Grant Thornton Whistleblow and forensic team is ready to help you with your challenges when implementing a whistleblow program. After all, there is much more to it than merely installing a whistleblow channel. We present an approach tailored to your organization, taking into account the culture, size, maturity and existing whistleblow elements. In doing so, we use best practices and guidance to ensure your whistleblow program is effective and compliant. We also guarantee a cost effective approach, minimizing the costs but maximizing the achievement of your objectives.
The Grant Thornton Whistleblow and forensic team can assist you in various ways, depending on your objectives we can play a customized role. We are happy to brainstorm and discuss what the most appropriate and effective approach is for your organization.
Specifically, we offer a whistleblow tool and advice on the whistleblow program implementation. But we can go further in unburdening our clients when we take the role as whistleblow officer, an independent and impartial role equipped with forensic and legal background. The visual below is an example of the building blocks we can offer to strengthen your whistleblow program.
What are the benefits of outsourcing the whistleblow officer function?
- On an as needed basis - Only incur costs when a report is received
- FTE and cost saving - No need to train and allocate an employee and back-up
- Impartial and independent follow-up and advice
- Easy and quick access to a trusted advisor and the relevant specialist for the domains in scope (Fraud, GRC, legal, criminal and labour law, tax, valuations, financials, bookkeeping,…)
- An additional assurance that the set-up and follow-up of the whistleblow program is compliant when facing inspections
Assurance or readiness audit on whistleblow program
When your whistleblow program is already installed and you seek certainty from an independent auditor, we are also expert in carrying out an internal audit on your whistleblow program, related processes, policies and procedures. During this assessment, we examine your documentation, verify roles and responsibilities, analyze case handling activities and control measures, and so on. That way, we can give an opinion on the design and effectiveness of your whistleblow program and opportunities for improvement.