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Most financial professionals fear retaliation for reporting suspected internal fraud

By Puja Sharma

May 23, 2024

  • Accounts Payable Automation Solutions
  • AI
  • Cloud Based Payments

FinTech, Fraud, Digital lending

  • Concerning new data shows more than half (65%) of financial professionals in the UK have spotted or suspected internal fraud in their workplaces, yet nearly four out of five (77%) stay silent fearing retaliation
  • 40% of professionals in finance have seen whistleblowers victimised behind their back or to their face

New data from fraud detection software company Medius shows more than half of financial professionals in the UK (65%) have spotted or suspected internal fraud in their workplaces yet four out of five (77%) stayed silent. When asked why, 46% of cited the fear of recrimination.

Concerns of repercussions are vindicated – the survey reveals the extent to which financial professionals in the UK have witnessed negative consequences for whistleblowers firsthand:

  • 43% have seen whistleblowers subsequently left out of important decisions
  • 42% have seen whistleblowers moved to a different team
  • 40% have heard whistleblowers called derogatory names behind their backs or directly to their face

When asked what would encourage them to flag suspicious activity, 91% of workers surveyed would feel more comfortable doing so if they had more evidence, yet nearly half (47%) said the legal system does not adequately protect whistleblowers.

Enron whistleblower, Sherron Watkins, alongside stars of Apple TV’s The Big Conn, Sarah Carver and Jennifer Griffith, have joined forces to reclaim the derogatory names they were called after reporting serious internal financial fraud.

To help empower others to come forward, the whistleblowers are reclaiming the terms “snitch”, “rat” and “traitor”.

Sherron Watkins is the former Vice President of Enron Corporation who alerted the CEO to accounting irregularities, warning the organisation “‘might implode in a wave of accounting scandals.” Watkins received national acclaim for her courageous actions and TIME magazine named her along with two others as their Persons of the Year in 2002, calling them simply ‘The Whistleblowers.’

Sarah Carver and Jennifer Griffith are the stars of Apple TV’s The Big Conn after they exposed a fraud scheme of more than $550 million while employed at the Social Security Administration. In efforts to silence their disclosures, they experienced multiple acts of severe retaliation and were denied protection. Ultimately, both Carver and Griffith were forced from employment.

 Jim Lucier, CEO at Medius, a global provider of cloud-based accounts payable automation and spend management solutions, said, White collar crime is on the rise and no organisation is safe. Employees are the last line of defense against fraud but confidence to report suspicious activity is declining. AI anomaly-detection technology can provide employees with the evidence and assurances they need to be more forthcoming. Building a culture where employees feel comfortable to report their suspicions could save organisations millions in the long-run.”

Medius works with over 4,000 customers across 102 countries and processes $200 billion in annual spend. It uses the power of AI and automation to detect fraud the moment invoices are submitted safeguarding against bad actors and potential threats, internal and external.

Sherron Watkins, whistleblower who was called a “snitch” said: “When someone is troubled by corporate wrongdoing and they attempt to sound the alarm, the pathway is uncharted, things happen organically. Normal rational people speak about their concerns with their closest friends and work colleagues, who often suggest staying safe saying “keep your head down, if you must report, go soft, nothing black and white.” Yet black and white evidence is what is needed to get the attention of those in power, either internally or with media or outside watchdog groups to prevent or stop fraudulent activity.”  

 Georgina Hallford-Hall, CEO of Whistleblowers UK said: “Too many organisations talk the talk but fail to engage with whistleblowers often at great cost to both. Technology used properly can remove the fear that both organisations and whistleblowers have about dealing with whistleblowing because it removes the person and focuses on the concerns or malfeasance. WhistleblowersUK are calling on the UK government to introduce an Independent Office of the Whistleblower to protect everyone from discrimination setting standards that end stigmatisation and discrimination making it safe to speak up.”

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