ASIC Offers Whistleblower Guidance for Auditors, Company Officers – Regulation Asia

The guidance explains the obligations of company auditors and company officers under the whistleblower protection provisions under the Corporations Act.

ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) has released guidance to help companies, company officers and company auditors understand and comply with their obligations under the corporate whistleblower protection regime.

In July 2019, the whistleblower protection regime was expanded to provide greater protections for whistleblowers who report misconduct about companies and company officers and employees.

The Corporations Act requires public companies, large proprietary companies, and corporate trustees of superannuation entities to have a whistleblower policy, and sets out how they will support and protect whistleblowers and handle their disclosures. In November 2019, ASIC released a new regulatory guide to assist these companies in meeting their legal obligation to have a whistleblower policy.

ASIC has also released Information Sheet 238 to help potential whistleblowers understand their rights and protections under the Corporations Act, and Information Sheet 239, which explains how ASIC will respond to whistleblower disclosures it receives.

In Australia, whistleblowers have the right to confidentiality, and are protected from reprisals and from legal action for reporting their concerns.

They can access their rights and protections by reporting their concerns to a company officer or company auditor. Therefore, it is important for company officers and company auditors to understand their obligations and handle whistleblower disclosures in line with the requirements of the regime, ASIC said.

As such, the latest guidance released explains the obligations of company auditors (Information Sheet 246) and company officers (Information Sheet 247) under the whistleblower protection provisions.

“Whistleblowers who speak up when they see wrongdoing provide a service to their employers. They can alert companies to changes that are necessary to comply with the law and improve their performance,” said ASIC Executive Director Warren Day.

“It is important that whistleblowers feel supported to speak up. ASIC encourages all companies and audit firms to put in place arrangements for handling whistleblower disclosures, even if the company is not required to have a whistleblower policy under the law.”

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