Europe, Middle East and Africa

UK Serious Fraud Office Introduces Corporate Crime Whistleblower Hotline
Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption, Anti-Money Laundering, Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Employment and Workplace Issues, Financial Integrity

 The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is encouraging whistleblowers to flush out corporate wrongdoing with the launch of its “SFO confidential” hotline and online service for anonymous reporting. The system is designed to encourage concerned individuals with “inside knowledge of suspect practices” to alert a team of SFO operatives about “situations that might deserve a closer look”.

SFO Confidential contact details and operating hours are provided in the SFO’s media release below.
Further information from the SFO
SFO’s media release (1 November 2011)

Related news items:
Financial Times (FT): SFO launches whistleblowing hotline (1 November 2011)
Reuters: SFO launches new whistleblowing hotline (1 November 2011)
(Source: SFO; FT; Reuters)

Fracking Industry on Shaky Ground Over Earth Tremor Link
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Health, Safety and Environment, Other

BBC News reports that a study commissioned by energy company Cuadrilla has concluded that fracking for shale gas extraction was the “likely cause” of Lancashire earth tremors in April and May 2011, but that the same geological conditions that triggered the quakes were “unlikely to occur again”. Reportedly, an “unusual combination of geology” at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall-1 well site caused a 2.3 magnitude tremor to hit the Fylde coast on 1 April, followed by 1.4 magnitude quake on 27 May. Cuadrilla reportedly suspended operations in June 2011 after a study by The British Geological Survey placed the epicentre for each quake 500 metres from the Preese Hall-1 well.

Environmental groups said that the findings did not “inspire confidence” in the industry, strengthening calls for a moratorium on fracking. Greenpeace chief scientist Doug Parr reportedly said that the findings demonstrated that “[t]here are significant unknowns about the local and global impacts of fracking”, concluding that “[a]nyone who believes shale gas is the solution to our energy needs is being hopelessly naive”.
BBC News: Fracking tests near Blackpool ‘likely cause’ of tremors (2 November 2011)

Related news item:
The Guardian: Fracking ‘probable’ cause of Lancashire quakes (2 November 2011)
(Source: BBC News; The Guardian)

OFT Code of Practice On Visits to Businesses
Anti-Money Laundering, Financial Integrity

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has released a Code of Practice: Visits to businesses under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (October 2011), which provides businesses with information on the circumstances in which the OFT will visit, what to expect during the visit and the OFT’s expectations of the business. The Code is aimed at estate agents and consumer credit financial institutions supervised by the OFT.
(Source: OFT)

Businesses Have Long Way to go in Inspiring Confidence
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Information Security, Privacy and Data Protection

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has released the Report on the Findings of the Information Commissioner’s Office Annual Track 2011: Organisations and Report on the Findings of the Information Commissioner’s Office Annual Track 2011: Individuals (both dated October 2011). The reports detail the results of the ICO’s annual survey of data protection awareness, finding that nearly 75% of organisations are aware of the legal requirement to keep personal data secure, a 26% increase compared with 2010. However, the survey also found that people are not confident that their information is appropriately managed, with fewer than 50% of respondents believing that “organisations process their data in a fair and proper manner”.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham expressed concern that though data protection awareness is rising, the fact that data breaches are increasingly common suggests that the private sector “does not seem to be putting its knowledge to good use”. Though noting the threat of fines of up to £500,000 for data breaches, Mr Graham warned that poor data handling will also mean customers “will turn away from brands that let them down”.
ICO’s media release (21 October 2011)
(Source: ICO)

EU’s Social Business Initiative
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

The European Commission has made available a report to the European Parliament, Social Business Initiative: Creating a favourable climate for social enterprises, key stakeholders in the social economy and innovation (undated). The report proposes a package of measures to strengthen social responsibility of businesses, to improve transparency of multinationals and to simplify accounting rules for small and medium enterprises.
(Source: European Commission)