Whistleblowing: protection or discouragement

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/JMLC-03-2020-0031
Pages591-600
Publication Date15 Jul 2020
AuthorTanya Gibbs
SubjectAccounting & Finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial compliance/regulation,Financial crime
Whistleblowing: protection or
discouragement
Tanya Gibbs
University of London, London, UK
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to survey UAE legislative initiatives affecting whistleblowing.
Many studiesclaim that whistleblowing is one of the most effectivemechanisms in ghting corruption. Either
done merely to satisfy regulatory requirements or in genuine efforts to counter internal fraud, many
organizations around the world incorporate whistleblowing programs. However, a lack of comprehensive
whistleblowerprotection remains the main impediment for reportingmisconduct or wrongdoing. A countrys
legislativeframework and its cultural and socio-economic specics impact the effectivenessof such protective
measures. Moreover, in the absence of comprehensive,stand-alone whistleblowing laws, whistleblowers can
become victimsnot only of employersretaliatory actionsbut also of criminal and civil charges.
Design/methodology/approach This paper surveys the UAE law and regulations in regard to
whistleblower protection. It alsoraises concerns regarding their effectiveness based on the countys unique
socio-economic and cultural environment and their interplay with other legislations, which can potentially
make whistleblowinga criminal offense.
Findings In the absence of stand-alone whistleblowing legislation, cultural aspects and otherlaws can
serve as deterrentsfor whistleblowers. It is crucial for a jurisdiction to set up an effective legaland regulatory
framework to enablesynergy across different laws and agencies involved.Implementation of comprehensive,
stand-alonewhistleblowing legislation might help provide legal certaintyand clarity.
Research limitations/implications In the absence of empirical studies on UAE whistleblowing,the
researcher primarily relied on English translations of the countrys laws and regulations, ofcial press
releasesand English media sources.
Practical implications This study introduces relevantbackground to organizations establishing their
own whistleblowingpolicies and employee training.
Originality/value This paper examines the effectiveness of whistleblowing legislative initiatives
through the prismof the countrys cultural, socio-economic and legal environment.
Keywords Whistleblowing, United Arab Emirates, Laws, Protection
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Attention to whistleblowing has heightened in recent years in the context of corporate
scandals linked to corruption and unethical practices. As a response, many jurisdictions
worldwide have enacted whistleblowing laws and regulations aimed to protect individuals
who disclose information despite theirpersonal vulnerability to retaliation. Such laws vary
across countries based on the degree of protection they provide. Only a few countries have
adopted comprehensive whistleblowing laws which facilitate the disclosure of information
while providing not only protectionsbut also incentives for people to come forward without
fear of being sanctionedfor their disclosures (Armstrong and Francis, 2015).
However, a majority of countries provide forms of whistleblower protection that are
spread across different statutes, which are limited in terms of the persons or types of
information they cover. In some cases,such as that of the United Arab Emirates, as will be
examined below, in the absence of stand-alone comprehensive whistleblowing legislation,
Protection or
discouragement
591
Journalof Money Laundering
Control
Vol.23 No. 3, 2020
pp. 591-600
© Emerald Publishing Limited
1368-5201
DOI 10.1108/JMLC-03-2020-0031
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
https://www.emerald.com/insight/1368-5201.htm

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