According to EU Directive 2019/1937 on the protection of persons reporting infringements of Union law, a whistleblower is a natural person who reports or discloses information about infringements obtained in connection with his or her work activities.
– This includes observations of acts or omissions that the whistleblower has reasonable grounds to believe constitute a violation.
– When there is a high probability that a violation will occur.
– When information is available to the whistleblower that may reveal violations that have already occurred.
– When an attempt has been made to conceal violations.
A violation according to the EU Directive includes illegal acts or omissions. On the other hand, abusive practices as well as acts or omissions that do not violate the law but are incompatible with the objective or purpose of the relevant legislation.
Classic examples include theft, fraud, bribery, as well as price fixing, and many more.
The reporting person contacts the responsible reporting office, e.g. with the help of the digital whistleblowing system (whistleblowing software) of the organization or an external authority. Here, trained and independent employees or an ombudsperson receive the report and confirm its receipt within seven days. The process of initial verification begins. If the information proves to be true and it is a compliance-relevant violation under the Whistleblower Protection Act, the person providing the information enjoys the protection of a whistleblower. For example, they may not be subjected to reprisals, i.e. they may not suffer any disadvantages as a result of the report.
Martin Porwoll, became known by the exposure of the medicine scandal in the old pharmacy Bottrop. He exposed the illegal machinations of the then owner of the pharmacy. He had reduced the individual dosages of cytostatics (anti-cancer drugs) of his seriously ill customers, i.e. simply “stretched” them. As a result, the customers received too low a dose of the medication they needed. Martin Porwoll collected important evidence over months and handed it over to the public prosecutor’s office. During the months of evidence collection, he became increasingly unwell, knowing the consequences for patients and unable to share his knowledge. When police finally raided the premises, he was summarily terminated.
His basic ethical and moral principles, especially his commitment to the pharmacy’s seriously ill patients, were the reason he was reported.
Thanks to individuals like Mr. Porwoll, internal abuses are uncovered and further harm is averted from the victims. For this reason, whistleblowers are an important component and must be protected from reprisals without exception. This is helped by a functioning compliance management system and a sound legal basis that prioritizes the protection of whistleblowers.
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