The Central Bank has published a Consultation Paper on the Handling of Protected Disclosures.

The Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013 (the Act) which was enacted on 11 July 2013, introduced new provisions providing protection for persons who, in good faith, make a disclosure regarding a possible or actual contravention of financial services legislation. It also provides for a mandatory disclosure regime for those performing pre-approval controlled functions (PCFs) relating to matters concerning any offence under, "prescribed contravention" of, or any other breach of financial services legislation which they believe will be of material assistance to the Central Bank.

The purpose of the Consultation Paper is to draw attention to the new provisions in the Act and to seek stakeholder views in relation to arrangements and policies to be put in place so as to create "an environment and structure that encourages those persons with relevant information to come forward with information to the Central Bank." It does not include any guidance, as anticipated in section 39 of the Act, on the assessment PCFs are required to make as to whether a disclosure is required to be made in any particular case.

The main provisions of the Consultation Paper include:

The Whistleblower Desk –

  • A Whistleblower Desk has been established to receive and manage disclosures from persons who wish to make protected disclosures.
  • The Whistleblower Desk will answer questions about the process and clarify the disclosure to be made.
  • The Central Bank will accept anonymous disclosures (although anonymous disclosures will not qualify as 'protected disclosures' for the purpose of the whistleblowing protections in the Act) and will also record all telephone calls on the dedicated Whistleblower telephone line.

Handling of Complaints and Business as Usual Disclosures –

  • Consumer complaints (which may fall within the definition of a protected disclosure under the legislation) will be dealt with under the current regime i.e. through the Financial Services Ombudsman;
  • Complaints by regulated financial service providers, their agents and employees in relation to potential breaches of financial services legislation, provided in the 'ordinary course' (such as self-reporting to the Central Bank's supervisory team) and which might technically fall within the definition of protected disclosures in the Act, will not ordinarily be treated formally pursuant to the Central Bank's new Whistleblower procedures.

Feedback to the Whistleblower

  • The Central Bank will not inform Whistleblowers of what action, if any, has been taken as a result of their disclosure.

Disclosures by Persons Holding Pre-Approval Controlled Function Roles

  • In relation to disclosures by PCFs of prescribed contravention of financial services legislation (Section 38(2) of the Act), the Central Bank has established a dedicated email address and postal address to assist PCFs in complying with their legal obligations and to ensure a written record is maintained of what was reported and when it was reported.

Comments from stakeholders are invited up to 19 June 2014.