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In 2018, India Inc got more whistleblower complaints than last year

PW bureau

The last annual reports released by companies show that out of the 50 companies that make the Nifty bucket, 17 have received a cumulative total of 3,508 whistle-blower complaints New Delhi: The last financial-year annual reports released by companies show that out of the 50 companies that make the Nifty bucket, 17 have received a cumulative total of 3,508 whistle-blower complaints, pointing to an increasing use and awareness of rules that institutionalise internal vigilance in Corporate India. The last year’s total stood at 3,139 complaints. Excluding Wipro, which led the pack with 1,526 cases, the other 16 companies have seen a 37 percent year-on-year jump in the number of complaints received by them from whistleblowers, data showed. However, even as Wipro topped the list, it saw a 10 percent reduction in the whistle-blower complaints over last year. Interestingly, 40 percent of the Nifty 50 companies made no mention of the whistle-blower cases received in the past year, while seven have mentioned not receiving any complaint at all. While Infosys said it received 1,168 cases related to disciplinary issues, it did not specify how many of these were whistle-blower complaints. Five public sector undertakings (PSUs) mentioned the handling of several vigilance cases, but did not provide any separate list for whistleblower complaints.

What were the complaints about?

Among the grievances received by companies, complaints about corruption allegations and improper conduct at workplace were the largest in number. Occasionally, sexual harassment issues were raised subtly through the whistle-blower mechanism. Cases relating to financial impropriety involved accounting fraud, embezzlement, procurement fraud, conflict of interest, bribery and corruption, fraudulent claims, theft of confidential data or physical assets, insider trading, tax evasion, violation of tax laws and false employee credentials. In a lot of cases, the number of complaints received were high but upon investigation, a lot of them were found to be irrelevant. For instance, 71 percent of the cases received by Wipro were resolved through the engagement of HR or mediation or closed as these were unsubstantiated.