Troubling times force whistleblowers into hiding

YESTERDAY BDO put out an annual survey concluding that the fact reported levels of fraud had fallen might mean whistleblowers were less likely to sound the alarm in times of economic strife.
This came, however, on the day a former Swiss banker handed over details of 2,000 account holders to WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange. Whistleblowing on quite a grand scale.
So which is it? Do whistleblowers go to ground, or do they come roaring to the surface angry and vengeful?
Actually, the two examples are the answer in themselves. BDO theorises that in troubled times when job security is uncertain, whistleblowers are less likely to undermine further their own career prospects by choosing the path of truth and righteousness. Fair enough. Doing good becomes poor currency in hard times.
Meanwhile, when you have nothing to lose, it might be easier to choose the most controversial route known to man as a means of a shining a light on what you see as wrong doing.
So it is with Rudolf Elmer, a former banker in Zurich, who yesterday handed WikiLeaks two CDs containing as yet undisclosed details of 2,000 prominent people who may or may not be using Switzerland to hide their money.
Elmer is facing charges this week of breaching bank secrecy laws. Things are already as bad as they could be for him.
The lesson here, I think, is that people are more likely to blow the whistle if they believe they will be protected from loosing their jobs.
The implication from the BDO speculation is that we’re clearly not doing enough to make whistleblowers feel secure.
Unless they have nothing to lose or hide in plain site as with WikiLeaks.

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