Employees, officers or agents of DFSA-regulated companies operating in or from the DIFC can now withhold their identities when reporting suspected misconduct either internally or externally to their auditor, the DFSA or a law enforcement agency. DFSA-regulated firms must also protect whistleblowers from any detrimental impact that reporting misconduct could cause, up to and including employment dismissal.
The protection only applies, however, when the information provided by a whistleblower creates a “reasonable suspicion” that a regulated entity, or an officer or employee of the regulated entity, has breached legislation administered by the DFSA or engaged in money laundering, fraud or another financial crime. The disclosure must also be made in “good faith”
Ruth Stephen, employment law expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “Employees can now file disclosures anonymously which goes further to bolster the protection that employees will be afforded against suffering any detriment or dismissal in response to making a disclosure in good faith.”
Seema Bono, dispute resolution and compliance expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “The new regime is significant and positive and takes the DIFC and the UAE further in the journey to create an environment of transparency and accountability.”
DFSA-regulated firms are required to operate appropriate and effective policies for reporting and assessing regulatory concerns, including internal arrangements to allow whistleblowers to come forward and escalate misconduct reports internally and to the DFSA or relevant authority if necessary. Each firm must implement measures to protect the identity of the whistleblower and against them suffering any detriment or dismissal and provide feedback to whistleblowers of how it will manage any conflicts of interest and the fair treatment of individuals accused of misconduct. Additionally, employers must inform all employees of the protections now available to them.