- Tuesday, 27 May 2014 09:12
The consequences of exposing fraud within organisations, regulation surrounding whistleblowing and lesson to be learnt will be discussed at the upcoming ICC Commercial Crime Services (CCS) Annual Economic Crime Lecture.
To be held next month, on 26th June, the meeting will see Michael Woodford, former CEO of Olympus in Japan share his experience about blowing the whistle on a suspected accounting fraud approaching $2billion in the company.
Michael, who was at the time newly-appointed president and CEO of the organisation, found that nobody was telling him the truth about the suspected crime.
Not knowing who to trust but realising that exposing the wrongdoing would put him and his family at risk, Michael decided to go ahead and blow the whistle.
In the lecture, he will outline the background to the scandal and explain what happened when he made it public. He will highlight the lessons learnt in his experience about information and transparency in financial flows.
On a wider scale, he will also question if the risks of such frauds are more likely in today’s environment and ask if regulation can work when even the trusted guardians can’t be trusted. He will examine how much of this is going on today and what is being done to protect whistleblowers?
Michael spent a good part of 2013 as a member of the Whistleblowing Commission, which reported formally on 27th November 2013. The Commission’s work is recognised as the UK’s most comprehensive review to date on whistleblowing policies and practices. The body also urges the Secretary of State to issue a Code of Practice to be adopted in all UK organisations.
The report makes 25 recommendations for boosting the whistleblowing framework in the UK and says that current legislation is “not working”. It calls for immediate change so as to ensure whistleblowers are given the confidence to speak out without fear of hostile backlash.
Michael says the recent scandals that have unfolded across a range of sectors, and which have so appalled the public, reveal a dangerous culture of silence.
“After experiencing my life spiralling out of control, with the fear of losing everything, my motivation now is simply a desire to share the lessons of the Olympus scandal as widely as I possibly can, and in doing so to make people think and hopefully make it a little easier for the next person who needs to blow the whistle.”
Michael notes that whistleblowing is in vogue currently and believes that most reasonable people will accept that whistleblowing is something to be nurtured as it can assist in the early detection and prevention of wrongdoing.
However he does make the point that as the CEO of a large multinational corporation, it was much more likely that people would listen to him. A real concern is how to make it easier for a junior management accountant, for example, to report such crimes.
It promises to be a highly entertaining and informative evening.
The lecture, “Exposing Economic Crime: The Olympus Scandal and its implications”, will be held at The Old Library, Lloyd’s, One Lime Street, London EC3M 7HA on Thursday 26th June at 5pm.
The lecture is open to all members and non-members by invitation and is subject to the capacity of the Old Library at Lloyds.