Firms Failing to Encourage Exposure of Malpractice; LEGAL & FINANCE

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Byline: By John Duckers Business Editor

Just 40 per cent of UK businesses have measures in place to accommodate potential whistleblowers, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report.

UK businesses do not even make the top ten list of countries that accommodate whistleblowing, coming 16th out of 33.

Brazilian businesses top the list, with 85 per cent making some provision for staff who report business malpractice. Scandinavian economies Denmark and Sweden follow, while even countries such as the Philippines and Armenia have a better rate of whistleblower support.

Whistleblowing has been in the spotlight recently due to the Chancellor's plans to provide greater powers to the Financial Services Authority, allowing increased protection for whistleblowers. This resulted in part from the HBOS share price drop in March, which occurred when false rumours about the bank were allegedly circulated by a London-based hedge fund in order to make money from share dealing.

This situation may have been avoided had employees felt comfortable informing bosses of the malpractice taking place. Increasing the powers of the FSA will aim to change attitudes towards whistleblowing and act as a preventative measure against corruption.

Alysoun Stewart, head of Grant Thornton's Entrepreneurial Advisory Group, said: "UK businesses currently adopt a reasonably weak stance on whistleblowing. Yet informants that report illegal or wrongful activities including rule breaking, criminal activity, cover-ups and fraud can save businesses millions. …