We, as Grant Thornton aspire to act in accordance with what is morally just. In view of this, Grant Thornton strives to maintain a transparent business culture with the highest standards of honesty and accountability. Our employees are encouraged to speak up if they have witnessed any misdemeanour, misconduct or illegal activity whether conducted (or in the process of being conducted) by another employee(s), client(s) or supplier(s) and without fear of penalization, retaliation, or discrimination.
This Whistleblowing Policy is applicable to all our employees and extends to individuals such as client(s), supplier(s), partners, principals, board members, trainees, and job applicants.
Who is a Whistleblower?
Any individual submitting a report through this whistleblowing policy shall be considered as the ‘Whistleblower’ in this regard. As a result, the Whistleblower may be any employee (inclusive of interns or apprentices), external collaborator, any service provider with whom a business relationship is maintained (subcontractors or suppliers) and members of the public.
To benefit from the protective status under the Protection of the Whistleblower Act (CAP 527 of the Laws of Malta), the individual making the report must:
- be a natural person;
- act impartially; and
- in good faith.
To whom does the Whistleblower report?
Grant Thornton has appointed a third-party, Saliba Stafrace Legal, to collect, process and anonymise all reports submitted through the whistleblowing reporting process. The Whistleblower must primarily report their issue to firstname.lastname@example.org including all information indicated in the following section of the policy.
Following receipt of the whistleblowing report, an anonymised version will be submitted by the third-party to Grant Thornton’s Ethics & Whistleblowing Reporting Officer, to carry out further analysis and investigation.
Once the Ethics & Whistleblowing Reporting Officer has concluded their analysis/ investigation, any decisions or feedback shall be sent to the third party. The third-party shall then inform the Whistleblower of the concluded outcome relating to their reported issue/concern.
What can be reported
Reports that may be submitted through the whistleblowing policy are in relation to the following scenarios:
- Crimes or misdemeanours;
- Violation of a law or regulation (including international sanctions violations, bribery and corruption, money laundering or other financial crime-related matters…);
- Any serious threat to the public interest;
- Violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the health and safety of persons and the environment (e.g., harassment, assault, inappropriate application of health and safety measures, etc);
- Conduct or situation contrary to the Firm’s code of conduct.
What to report
The whistleblower is to submit the report containing the following information to Saliba Stafrace Legal on email@example.com.
- Nature of incident: (Briefly describe the concern/issue raised by the whistleblower, (i.e., conflict of interest, harassment, fraud etc). How did issue come to place? Has this incident happened before?
- Location of Incident: (i.e., in office, outside office, team building etc). Kindly include the address of said incident.
- Parties involved/affected: (number of parties involved in the issue/concern). It is important that no names of whistleblowers are included unless given consent.
- Relevant documents and evidence: Include any supporting documents that may be required to carry out the assessment/ investigation (i.e., emails, financial records such as invoices/expense reports, company policies and procedures used as a reference point to assess compliance, witness statements including the signature of an individual/s who have knowledge or saw the issue occurring, etc).
In the case of non-anonymity, the following information must be provided in addition to that stipulated above:
- Whistleblower full name;
- Whistleblower email address;
- Whistleblower contact number; and
- Whistleblower department: (i.e., TAX, TAS, BPS, IT, Audit, People & Culture, etc)
If the Ethics & Whistleblowing Reporting Officer requires further information as part of the assessment/ investigation, the third-party may be required to contact the Whistleblower in relation to any such requests for further information.
In terms of these whistleblowing procedures, the aforementioned third-party is to provide the Whistleblower with a receipt of their report within seven (7) days. From date of receipt, the Ethics & Whistleblowing Reporting Officer must finalise the investigation within three (3) months.
If the third-party receiving the report does not send a receipt within the seven (7) day period, the three (3) month period shall be considered from the seventh (7) day following submission of report.
In accordance with the Protection of the Whistleblower Act (CAP 527 of the Laws of Malta), the Whistleblower will be able to submit an external disclosure if:
- the Whistleblower has a reasonable belief that the reporting officer has a personal/ professional relationship with an individual who is or may be involved in the wrongdoing;
- the reporting person believes that they will face negative consequences from their employer if they report internally;
- the reporting person was not informed on the status of the matter following an internal report; or
- the following factors are present:
- seriousness of the improper practices;
- continuing or future occurrence;
- breach of confidentiality duty;
- previous employer action; or
- compliance with authorized procedures.
Kindly refer to the Protection of the Whistleblower Act for further information on external disclosures.
Rights and Freedoms of the Whistleblower
Grant Thornton, as a data controller, shall collect and consequently process any provided personal data/ information relating to individuals (‘data subjects’). As a result, the processing of such personal data is conducted for the purpose of a legal obligation to which Grant Thornton may be subject, or in terms of a legitimate interest to the Firm.
Therefore, personal information collected in this regard may be disclosed to authorised internal and external experts in terms of analysis procedures or in terms of legal and/or regulatory purposes. Furthermore, Grant Thornton may identify instances in which disclosure to relevant authorities may be required to ensure compliance with legal or regulatory obligations of the Firm.
If you require any further information or wish to exercise your rights to the protection of your personal data, kindly send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kindly refer to the Grant Thornton’s Data Protection and Confidentiality Policy within the Firm’s Intranet for further information.
Protection and Anonymity
This whistleblowing reporting procedure shall act as a complementary option, not intended to replace the traditional reporting channels that exist within Grant Thornton (such as People & Culture, direct line managers or otherwise). If you feel you cannot be open with your personal information, we offer the option of reporting your concern anonymously.
It is important to note that in line with the Protection of the Whistleblower Act (CAP 527 of the Laws of Malta), any whistleblower who reports a concern on reasonable grounds, and believes that what they are reporting is true (along with supporting evidence of the concern), are protected in terms of the law.
A reported disclosure is only protected if it entails at least one of the following wrong doings:
- Criminal offence;
- Miscarriage of justice;
- Danger to health and safety;
- Damage to the environment;
- Deliberate cover up of any of any of the above.
In the case of an individual who intentionally reports false information or is a perpetrator/accomplice within any reported improper practice, shall not be granted immunity under the Protection of the Whistleblower Act.
Penalties and Offences
Any report must be made in a responsible, non-defamatory and non-abusive manner. Should this not be the case, any individual may be exposed to penalties, potentially of a criminal nature, for false allegations or defamation, and potential disciplinary proceedings.
The Protection of the Whistleblowing Act states that in terms of the below scenarios, the individual may be held liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 1 year or to a fine Multa ranging between 500 to 5000 euros.
- any individual who uses/threatens to use violence against an individual;
- follows such person from place to place;
- watches or besets the house or other place of such person;
- deprives such person or hinders him in the use of tools, clothing or other property owned by such person.
Moreover, a fine Multa or imprisonment may be modified depending on the severity of the crime/ contravention. In the case of any increase in penalties, the punishment of imprisonment shall be increased by 1 to 2 degrees and the fine Multa shall be between 1500 to 10,000 euros.