Telekom Austria has recommended that other operators follow its lead in introducing a whistleblowing platform after a number of incidents were successfully brought to light.

The company launched its tell.me whistleblowing platform in December 2012 following two serious fraud cases.

Director of Compliance Martin Walter (pictured) told European Communications that of the 33 incidents reported since the platform was launched, 24 were “relevant” and 12 were "confirmed as true".

The incidents concerned a wide range of issues, although he refused to discuss the detail of them.

However, Walter did confirm a number of employees had been dismissed as a result of the investigations, without specifying the exact amount.

He added roughly two-thirds of the accusations came from Telekom Austria employees with the remaining third coming from external parties such as the operator’s suppliers.

Walter said he had expected up to 80 percent of accusations would come from internal employees.

Telekom Austria uses a whistleblowing platform from Germany-based vendor Business Keeper AG. Anyone can fill out an online form to report an incident.

Walter said the operator was worried initially that it was “opening a Pandora’s box” but has found that it has been used “in a responsible way”.

He explained: “We had a lot of internal discussions regarding potential misuse before we launched the platform. But only three incidents could be described as ‘complete nonsense’ – ie, people blaming other people without reason.”

In total, 13 reported incidents were not followed up, while nine remain “pending”.

According to Walter, the number of incidents reported was broadly in line with expectations.

He said a “good rule of thumb” is 1-3 reported incidents per 1,000 employees –per year. Given Telekom Austria has 16,000 employees, the 33 cases fall into this ratio.

“If you receive zero reports that means there is no misbehavior at your company – this is generally not true,” Walter said. “Equally, if you receive thousands of reports then again something is wrong.”

He said that other operators should consider following Telekom Austria’s lead: “I would really recommend it. It is good to help prevent and detect misbehaviour. And I'm convinced that it has paid for itself on both a reputational and financial basis already.”

To make it a success, Walter says it is “very important” to have an “intensive” communications strategy in place internally to build up trust.

“Employees were cautious at the start but now it is a well known and accepted instrument,” he said.

As such, Walter does not anticipate making any significant changes to the platform nor to the process. 

Further, the expected conclusion of America Movil’s takeover this month will not affect the whistleblowing strategy.

“[America Movil] have zero influence on compliance in Austria,” Walter said.

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