French Rules on Whistleblower Hotlines are Changing


Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D–MD) and Rep. Michael G. ...

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As many of you operating globally know, the laws and regulations in differing countries can prove tricky to navigate. There have been changes recently in the way an organization can operate whistleblower hotlines in France that will be of interest to our multinational clients. In October 2010, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (or CNIL), the French data privacy regulatory body, amended the “single authorization” method for whistleblower hotlines. The amendments included both a clarification and broadening of the scope of acceptable issues organizations can receive through the hotline and still be in compliance with the single authorization.

The October amendments removed the ability to capture issues of “vital interests [to] the company or moral or physical integrity of the employees.” However, the CNIL did broaden the scope of reportable issue types to include issues related to anti-competition practices, Sarbanes-Oxley and Japanese SOX. Accordingly, the CNIL clarified that the single authorization method will allow reporting on all of the following: finance/accounting, banking, fight against corruption, anti-competitive practices and compliance with Section 301(4) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Japanese Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.

An organization has six (6) months (beginning December 8, 2010) to modify their system to be in line with these new single authorization rules, or apply for formal consideration of their hotline through the CNIL. Operation of a whistleblower hotline outside the scope of the single authorization or without formal approval from the CNIL on a broader scope, puts organizations at risk for criminal sanctions and hefty fines. These criminal sanctions and fines may be issued by the CNIL and the French courts have the authority, in civil litigation, to multiply these sanctions up to 5 times.

Thanks to OnPoint..

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