Whistleblowing is one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent corruption and other malpractice. Whistleblowers’ disclosures have exposed wrongdoing and fraud, helped save millions in public funds, avoid disasters for health, the environment. Whistleblower’s important role in safe guarding the public good is repeatedly proved by the scandals they uncover, such as industry-scale tax avoidance (LuxLeaks and Panama Papers), and money laundering (Danske Bank scandal).
However, many more cases of wrongdoing could have been prevented if more people had come forward to expose problems to their organisations, the authorities or the media. Unfortunately, reporting often comes at a high price: whistleblowers risk their career, their livelihood and sometimes their personal safety to expose wrongdoing that threatens the public interest. They may be fired, sued, blacklisted, arrested, threatened or, in extreme cases, assaulted or killed. And in some societies, whistleblowing carries connotations of betrayal rather than being seen as a benefit to the public.
Ultimately, societies, institutions and citizens lose out when there is no one willing to cry foul in the face of corruption.