Accountants seek protection under whistleblower bill

Accountants who act as whistleblowers in cases of corporate malfeasance or wrongdoing should be given specific protections as part of the Protected Disclosures Bill currently going through the Oireachtas, according to Chartered Accountants Ireland president Brendan Lenihan.

“The current controversy around whistleblowing says to me that more needs to be done to move our concept of whistleblowing and good faith reporting onto a level where they are seen as moral and ethical imperatives that are universally prized, valued and supported.

“All progressive organisations now see whistleblowing and good faith reporting as an integral and important part of risk management.

“Corporate attitudes in this area are changing for the better but perhaps too slowly and as a profession we need to add momentum to this effort,” Mr Lenihan said at a reception at the Irish embassy in London last night.

He said accountants can play a leading role in developing a new framework for corporate behaviour.

However, he called on Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin to include in his bill specific protections for accountants in industry who uncover wrongdoing in the course of their work.

“I see the current controversy going on in Ireland in relation to whistleblowers as a step along the way to the inevitable and welcome trend of good faith reporting in relation to wrongful acts.

“As accountants, we are very much at the coalface of Irish business and we have a key role to play in improving corporate governance.

“Whistleblowing is one part of that positive contribution from all citizens, but particularly from professionals such as accountants, to highlight public interest issues that must be remedied.

“In all aspects of society we urgently need to move whistle-blowing away from an activity that is frowned upon or even structurally disallowed.”

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