Monday, 15 December 2014

ICAN introduces whistle-blower protection fund

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria has established Whistle-blowers’ Protection Fund, aimed at reducing corruption in the public and private sectors.

The accounting body said the move would ensure high moral, financial, ethical and legal standards among members of the association in the discharge of their duties.

In a statement on Sunday, the professional body said the WPF would protect members and the public “from any form of reprisals or victimisation when an alarm is raised on financial impropriety by public or private establishments, individuals or groups within the country.

“The fund is also to assist whistle-blowers in litigation expenses reasonably incurred, and to assist members of the institute to discharge their professional duties without fear of being victimised.”

The fund has an initial take-off amount of N50m.

The statement quoted the Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, ICAN, Mrs. Bunmi Owolabi, as saying, “The council of the institute considers whistle-blowing as a crucial instrument to detecting and reporting corruption, fraud and mismanagement in the public, private and non-profit sector.

“Many a time, a disclosure on corruption is often not appropriately followed-up by the concerned authorities; whistle-blowers have a critical role to play in the protection of the public interest,” Owolabi said.

She maintained that in disclosing wrongdoing, whistle-blowers often took high personal risks, adding that these might lead to retaliation, dismissal or physical danger.

“The establishment of the fund is part of ICAN’s mandate to protect the public interest, promote integrity and accountability, which are crucial conditions for democracy, the rule of law and sustainable development,” she added

Prior to the establishment of the fund, the institute has been supporting its members who blow the whistle with funds to pay their legal fees.

The measures have, however, not proved sufficient to ensure comprehensive and effective protection of members, according to the spokeswoman

The statement said, “ICAN is empowered to set standards of knowledge and skills to be attained by persons seeking to become members of the accountancy profession in Nigeria. The Institute has more than 39,000 members and 120,000 students on its registers and conducts professional examinations twice in a year.

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