The EU Whistleblower Directive - a curse or a blessing?

The EU Whistleblower Directive - a curse or a blessing?

Discussion: The whistleblower system and the opportunities for SMEs

We discussed what the Whistleblower Directive is all about and how SMEs can prepare for its entry into force with: Lawyer and compliance expert Christina Sontheim-Leven (ea. Richterin am LAG Düsseldorf & Fachbeirätin Compliance Business Magazin & Institut für angewandtes Wirtschaftsrecht) and the insurance expert Gerhard F. Embser (Managing Partner Fülling & Meysenburg GmbH & Co. KG.). The event was moderated by risk manager and member of the VBKI Finance Committee, Kristina Borrmann.

The term whistleblowing has been on everyone's lips since Edward Snowden and the revelations of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, but at the latest since the Wirecard case. In Germany, however, the term "whistleblower" is used to describe the topic and all its implications, especially for SMEs. In December 2021, the EU Whistleblowing Directive, which the European Union agreed on in December 2019 as an EU-wide standard for the protection of whistleblowers in the private and public sectors, will come into force.

 The new regulation is relevant for companies with more than 50 employees, which are now obliged to set up a whistleblower system. In future, anyone who observes misconduct or malpractice will have the opportunity to bring this to the attention of the company concerned anonymously. Christina Sontheim-Leven's presentation quickly made it clear that whistleblowing is an issue that can also affect SMEs: using the example of Wilke-Wurst, which went bankrupt over the scandal of "adulterated" sausage products, and the Bottrop pharmacist who peddled cancer drugs and condoned endangering life and limb in order to enrich himself financially - in addition to considerable financial damage, the lack of a whistleblowing system poses a significant reputational risk for the companies concerned.

 Supplemented by numerous best practice examples and an overview of the relevant insurance law aspects by Gerhard F. Embser, Christina Sontheim-Leven gave a thoroughly optimistic outlook. In particular, digital whistleblowing solutions can prevent future damage in a low-threshold and cost-effective manner and improve communication and transparency within the company both internally and externally.

 If you are interested in the presentation by Christina Sontheim-Leven and Gerhard F. Embser, please contact the VBKI events team at veranstaltungen@vbki.de.

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