The WhistleB Partnership Programme continues to expand in Europe, and we are thrilled to welcome leading Romanian law firm NNDKP as our latest partner. As a long-standing player in Romania, NNDKP has constantly been at the forefront of transitioning the legal market from traditional practice to the highest service, and is thus an exciting partner in the country.
In the interview below, NNDKP partner Adriana I. Gaspar shares her views on the atmosphere surrounding whistleblowing in Romania ahead of the local transposition of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive.
“Such law can only achieve its remarkable, society-sanitizing goals if all involved persons and authorities flawlessly cooperate to strike the right balance in protecting whistleblowers against retaliation and employers against abuse of law.” Adriana I. Gaspar, Senior Partner NNDKP.
1. Tell us a little about NNDKP
NNDKP is based in Bucharest and is the recognized pioneer of business law in Romania. We are relentlessly focused on satisfaction and integrity when we assist clients in pursuing their business goals in an extremely mobile, continuously developing environment. We use our international expertise and in-depth local knowledge and understanding to advise clients in challenging business matters.
NNDKP is structured into 20 practice groups, covering virtually all business law areas. We also offer built-in legal & tax solutions to ensure a 360° approach to any matter. For clients conducting operations outside the reach of Bucharest team, we provide on-the-ground services through our offices in Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca.
2. How do you expect the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive and its national transposition to affect companies in Romania?
Any improvement in procedures and practices is generally received with reserve, frustration, resistance, and, thus, things typically get worse before they get better. Also, with many competing demands on managements’ post-lockdown agendas, companies broadly feel that the timing of the new law could have been better. Many can hardly afford to invest time and financial resources into the creation of the infrastructure, whether tangible or intangible, required to comply with the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive and the still to be enacted applicable Romanian law.
At the same time, as much as the whistleblowing proponents are concerned about the potential immorality of employers, employers themselves are concerned about the potential immorality of pseudo-whistleblowers. There is some concern that these people might try to abuse the law and hold companies hostage in order to gain personal advantages, including undue protection against liability.
As it currently reads, the draft Romanian law transposing (and expanding the scope of) the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive relies on very subjective tests in measuring belief, knowledge, perception, etc. which trigger legal consequences. Consequently, such law can only achieve its remarkable, society-sanitizing goals if all involved persons and authorities flawlessly cooperate to strike the right balance in protecting whistleblowers against retaliation and employers against abuse of law.
3. When it comes to anti-corruption and/or corporate misconduct, what are the most significant issues that your clients are currently facing, or will face over the next few years?
Organized crime groups acting within a company or a group of companies and usually involving a top-executive are much more difficult to identify and dismantle in the case of multi-national corporations, compared to entrepreneurially developed businesses. The wider and larger a corporation is, and the more de-centralized a corporation operates, the higher its exposure to corporate, fiscal and other fraud. This is, in fact, one of the reasons such corporations have voluntarily implemented whistleblowing systems even in jurisdictions imposing no legal obligation to offer an internal protected communication channel to staff. However, in our experience, the success in enhancing the level of protection against corruption and/or corporate misconduct in the presence of a whistleblowing system is highly dependent on the cultural background of personnel in each particular country.
4. How do you see that clients might benefit more broadly from complying with the new law?
The new governance standard imposed by the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive requires that the commitment to integrity of each employer becomes manifest to such an extent that it nurtures the openess of the staff to disclose actions or abstentions that may qualify as violations of law or deontological norms. Once the power of this commitment fostered by the law overcomes reluctance to use the whistleblowing system in a company, that company and all its stakeholders achieve a new level of protection against fraud. Both micro-levels and macro-levels benefit from such end-result.
5. Why did you choose to partner with WhistleB specifically?
Partnership means common goals, trust and coordination, as well as common values. WhistleB not only developed a system that seems to fully meet both the requirements of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive and those mandated by the EU GDPR, but shares service and integrity standards similar to NNDKP’s, which come first in our decision to recommend the WhistleB product to our clients.