If you want to make a complaint to the SFO about serious wrongdoing at your place of work, you may come within the protected disclosure regime contained in the Protected Disclosures (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act 2022 (‘the Act’).
The Director of the Serious Fraud Office is an appropriate authority that can receive a disclosure of information under the Act (for example, in relation to any potential criminal offending).
Who can make a protected disclosure? What type of conduct can be covered by a protected disclosure?
First, you should check to see if you come within the definition of a “discloser”. Section 8 of the Act defines a discloser as an individual who is (or was formerly) an employee, a secondee, a contractor under a contract for services, a board member or trustee, a member of the Armed Forces or a volunteer.
Your complaint must also relate to a serious wrongdoing. Serious wrongdoing includes:
- unlawful, corrupt or irregular use of public money or resources
- conduct or an omission that poses a serious risk to public health, public safety, the health and safety of any individual, the environment or the maintenance of the law
- any criminal offence
- oppression, unlawful discrimination, gross negligence or mismanagement by public officials.
How to make a protected disclosure to the Serious Fraud Office
You do not have to make a complaint to your employer first. A discloser is entitled to protection under the Act for a protected disclosure made directly to the Serious Fraud Office at any time, whether or not you have made the disclosure to your employer first.
To make a protected disclosure to the Serious Fraud Office, please either:
- Send an email with details of your complaint to email@example.com; or
- To make an anonymous disclosure, send a written complaint marked ‘Private and Confidential’ to the SFO Director, PO Box 7124, Wellesley Street, Auckland 1141.
If a disclosure is received, the Serious Fraud Office will consider whether it requires investigation. An investigation may be undertaken by the Serious Fraud Office or alternatively the disclosure may be referred on to another authority. A decision could also be made that no further action is required.
What are the protections available?
If you come within the protected disclosures regime in the Act (see section 11), you will be protected in the following ways:
- Your disclosure (including your identity) must be kept confidential unless disclosure is essential (after consultation with you) to:
- the effective investigation of the allegations
- prevent serious risk to the health and safety of the public
- comply with the principles of natural justice.
- You will be protected from civil, criminal and disciplinary proceedings.
- You will be protected from retaliatory action by your employee.
- You will receive the protection of the anti-victimisation provisions of the Human Rights Act 1993.
Where to find more information
If you would like more information or guidance about the protected disclosure regime, the Office of the Ombudsman is mandated under the Act to provide information and guidance. Further information can be found on the Ombudsman's website(external link).