On February 18, 2016, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) announced that it will not offer financial rewards to whistleblowers who report violations of the laws administered by the AMF. This decision follows careful analysis of the measures implemented by the regulatory organizations of other jurisdictions. The AMF determined that financial rewards were not an important motivating factor for whistleblowers, and that an approach focused on protecting the confidentiality of the informants and the information they provide would achieve better results.
Results of the AMF’s Analysis
The AMF compared the rewards-based whistleblower programs offered by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Ontario Securities Commission with the non-rewards whistleblower programs of the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. After reviewing both quantitative and qualitative data related to these programs, the AMF found that financial incentives were not conducive to more accurate whistleblowing.
Emphasis Put on Confidentiality in Newly Launched Program
Following the February 18, 2016 announcement, the AMF launched its whistleblower program on June 20, 2016. The program again stressed that ensuring the confidentiality of the information received along with protecting whistleblowers against reprisal measures are key for informants to come forward. The AMF enacted such an orientation by setting up a secure whistleblower channel, hoping that informants will feel more secure divulging sensitive information. “Our specialized team is ready to guide whistleblowers throughout the process and ensure extra protection in the course of ensuing investigations and legal proceedings”, said Louis Morisset, AMF President and CEO.
The AMF also hopes that its anti-reprisal measures will prove effective in encouraging whistleblowers to report suspicious activities. Among other measures, the AMF is promoting immunity from civil prosecution to protect informants from liability arising from the information they report. The AMF believes such protection will lower the social and work-related consequences associated with whistleblowing.
In light of the Ontario Securities Commission’s recent decision allowing for the financial compensation of whistleblowers, we shall see what policy choice bears the most fruit. The AMF certainly hopes that its confidentiality-based approach will encourage more informants to come forward without fear of reprisal.