A whistleblower is someone who reports or exposes dishonest or illegal behaviour from within an organisation. Assistance and information from a whistleblower play a vital role in exposing corruption and bribery. Because they often have detailed knowledge of the circumstances and individuals involved, whistleblowers can help expose corrupt behaviour much earlier than might otherwise be possible.

Step one: Report your suspicions to the appropriate person within your organisation, using the internal procedure.

Step two: If this is not appropriate (for instance if you reasonably believe that the person you're supposed to make disclosures to is involved in the serious wrongdoing), or you have made a complaint and no action has been taken within 20 working days, or there are urgent or exceptional circumstances, you should report the matter to the Serious Fraud Office.

What are the protections?

Whistleblowers are given legal protection in certain situations under the Protected Disclosures Act, unless the information being disclosed is protected by legal professional privilege. Your identity will be kept confidential unless disclosure is essential to:

  • the effective investigation of the allegations
  • prevent serious risk to public health or safety, or the environment
  • comply with the principles of natural justice.

The Act gives immunity from civil, criminal, or disciplinary proceedings against a person for making a protected disclosure, or for referring a disclosure on to an appropriate authority.

The Act also provides that an employee who suffers retaliatory action by their employer for making a protected disclosure can take personal grievance proceedings under the Employment Relations Act.

It is unlawful under the Human Rights Act to treat whistleblowers or potential whistleblowers less favourably than others in the same or similar circumstances. Legal remedies under the Human Rights Act may be available.

Useful Links

http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/ - Whistleblowing
http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/ - Protected Disclosures Act
www.mfat.govt.nz - Bribery and Corruption
www.justice.govt.nz - Bribery and Corruption
http://www.transparency.org.nz/ - Bribery and Corruption