Whistleblower reports ‘fall’ as staff work from home

The vast numbers of workers stuck in their homes over the last year have been less likely to stumble across their employer’s dodgy behaviour, fraud experts have warned.

New figures show that there was a large dip in the number of whistleblower reports filed to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) last year.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that 1,073 reports were filed in 2020, compared to 1,179 a year earlier.

The 9% fall is the first time since 2016 that the number of reports has dropped, said governance giant Kroll which submitted the request.

Most of the UK’s financial services staff worked from their homes between March and December last year.

“It is likely that home working also increased isolation and limited accidental discovery of questionable and illicit business practices,” Kroll said.

However, in the US the Securities and Exchange Commission reported a 32% jump in whistleblower tips. Some states in the US have had limited or no lockdowns, meaning fewer people have been stuck at home.

“After a number of year-on-year increases in whistleblowing reports and an apparently growing culture of rooting out wrongdoing, the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing remote working environment seem to have halted this progress,” said Benedict Hamilton, Kroll’s managing director of business intelligence and investigations.

“It is highly likely that the reduced visibility which colleagues have over others is behind the drop.”

Anonymous reports to the FCA dropped even more, the figures revealed, hitting 206 in 2020, compared to 291 a year earlier. It is the first time the figure has fallen since 2016.