All posts tagged incentives for whistleblowers

Ex-governor of Fukushima saw his concerns about nuclear plants tragically vindicated

There’s nothing like a major disaster to see how important whistleblowers are, and to expose the other half of the wrongdoers’ playbook.

The tsunami that caused the meltdown at the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant is just such a disaster. In the piece below, we can see how a former governor of the Fukushima Prefecture, Sato Eisaku, received many warnings from whistleblowers about the nuclear plant, and tried to have them addressed. As a result, he argues, he was wrongfully prosecuted for corruption and kicked from office. There is evidence to support his claims. He wrote a book in 2008 about his concerns; it is now a bestseller.

Whistleblowing in the nuclear industry has been met with reprisals in many countries, including the U.S. One former inspector, in fact, reported that the problem of backup generators not working is a fairly typical one which the industry has a history of ignoring. (In the Fukushima plant, the generators were in the basement so were vulnerable to flooding.)

Whistleblowers before an accident generally face a standard set of responses: denials that there is a problem, attacks on their credibility and a variety of other personal attacks.

After a crisis, it’s common for officials to argue that it was impossible to predict.… Read the rest

Anonymous whistleblower brings down the head of two major U.S. corporations

Here’s an example of whistleblowing program that worked – the President of CompUSA and TigerDirect was fired after an investigation into an anonymous whistleblower complaint.

Now, as much as I would like to believe that the action was swift and firm because the company just happened to have a great culture, I’m not so sure. First of all, the whistleblower chose to remain anonymous – a clear sign that he or she worried about consequences. Secondly, the article below suggests that other employees were aware of the problems but chose not to speak up. And thirdly – and this is speculative, of course – he was co-founder of the company. I can’t help but wonder whether he felt it was his private piggy bank, shareholders be damned. It’s happened before. Take, for example, Conrad Black.

I have another suspicion. I’d be willing to bet that one or both of the companies sold computers to the U.S. government. If so, they would be subject to the False Claims Act, which carries big rewards for people bringing forward qui tam lawsuits, and massive penalties for the companies. The results would be especially bad if it was clear that the companies didn’t have effective whistleblower programs as required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.… Read the rest