1.1 BBK is committed to the highest standards of good governance, openness, transparency, honesty, integrity and accountability. This whistle blowing policy document explains procedure for reporting any misconduct to the designated officials so that appropriate remedial action can be taken.
1.2 Whistle blowing procedures are intended to make it easier for members of staff to be able to report irregularities in good faith, without having to fear that their action may have adverse consequences.
1.3 This document clarifies that employees and other individuals representing BBK can raise an alert on misconduct without fear of retaliation, victimisation, subsequent discrimination or disadvantage. This whistle blowing policy is intended to encourage and enable employees and other individuals representing the Bank to raise serious concerns within BBK rather than overlooking a problem or 'blowing the whistle' outside.
1.4 The policy applies to all employees BBK Group as well as Directors of BBK. The Bank shall mean BBK and BBK shall mean BBK Group, which includes BBK, its overseas branches/representative offices and wholly owned subsidiaries.
1.5 These procedures contained herein are in addition to the customers’ complaints procedures, code of ethics for staff, STR reporting procedures, Code of Best Practice for consumer credit and charging; and other statutory or regulatory disclosure and reporting procedures and requirements.
2.0 SCOPE OF THIS POLICY:
2.1 This policy is designed to enable Directors, all employees, including temporary staff, to raise any serious concerns internally with high level of confidentiality and immunity.
2.2 Any individual who has observed a reportable misconduct has an obligation and responsibility to report such conduct to appropriate authority.
2.3 Conduct becomes reportable when it happens or when it is reasonably likely to happen in near future. In determining whether to report a conduct, the harm to the institution should not only be measured in terms of funds lost or damage to a particular activity or initiative but should also be assessed in terms of damages to the integrity and reputation of BBK.
2.4 This policy is also a mean of preventing and deterring misconduct that may be contemplated but has not yet taken place.
2.5 This policy aims to:
• Encourage employees to feel confident in raising serious concerns and to question and act upon concerns.
• Provide avenues to raise concerns and receive feedback on any action taken
• Reassure employees that they will be protected from possible reprisal or victimisation if they have a reasonable belief that they have made any disclosure in good faith.
2.6 The whistle blowing policy is intended to cover major concerns that fall outside the scope of other procedures. These concerns may include:
• conduct which is an offence or a breach of law
• related to miscarriages of justice
• health and safety risks, including risks to public/employees
• damage to reputation
• damage to the environment
• the unauthorised use of Bank’s funds and/or use of funds/ property/ resources for illegal, improper or unethical purpose
• possible fraud
• indulgence in corruption
• sexual or physical abuse
• other unethical conduct
2.7 A serious concern about any aspect of service provision or the conduct of officers or employees or others acting on behalf of BBK can be reported under this whistle blowing policy. It includes any act/event which;
• is against governing rules, procedures, and policies; or established standards of practice;
• falls below established standards of practice and ethics such as integrity, respect, honesty, responsibility, accountability and fairness;
• amounts to illegal or unlawful conduct;
• amounts to the waste/misuse of BBK resources;
• amounts to an attempt to cover up any of these types of actions.
3.0 PROTECTION TO WHISTLE BLOWER:
3.1 Retaliation, Harassment or Victimisation:
3.1.1 BBK will not tolerate any harassment or victimisation (including informal pressures) and will take appropriate action to protect those who raise a concern in good faith.
3.1.2 Any investigation into allegations of potential malpractice or misconduct reported by whistle blower will not influence or be influenced by any other disciplinary procedures that already may otherwise affect the whistle blower.
3.2.1 All concerns/reports will be treated in utmost confidentiality. In certain instances, however, the whistle blower may be requested to come forward to substantiate or clarify his views.
3.2.2 All whistle blowing reports would be treated as either confidential or anonymous. The choice between confidential or anonymous is that of the whistle blower alone.
3.2.3 A whistle blower may choose to reveal his/her identity when a report or disclosure is made. BBK will respect and protect the confidentiality of the whistle blower and gives the assurance that it will not reveal the identity of the whistle blower to any unrelated third party, unless as required by legal proceedings (i.e. overriding legal obligation).
3.2.4 The Bank expects that the whistle blower maintains same level of confidentiality.
3.3 UNTRUE ALLEGATIONS
3.3.1 If a whistle blower makes an allegation in good faith, but it is not confirmed by subsequent investigation, no action will be taken against him. In making a report, the individual must exercise duecare to ensure the accuracy of the information. If, however, the whistle blower makes an allegation frivolously, maliciously, for personal gain, for personal reasons; Bank may consider disciplinary action against him/her. Initiating such action would need approval of the Chief Executive.
3.3.2 “Good faith” can be taken to mean the unequivocal belief in the veracity of the reported incidents, i.e. the fact that the member of staff reasonably believes that the transmitted information to be true.
Staff members, who make a report maliciously, based knowingly on false or misleading information, seemingly due to personal bias, shall not be protected and shall be subject to disciplinary measures.
3.4 ANONYMOUS ALLEGATIONS:
3.4.1 This policy encourages the whistle blower to put his/her name on the allegation whenever possible. A confidential report as opposed to an anonymous report will facilitate informed investigation process.
3.4.2 Concerns expressed anonymously will however, be accepted but would be considered at the discretion of BBK.
3.4.3 In exercising this discretion the factors to be taken into account would include:
• the seriousness of the issues raised
• the credibility of the concern; and
• the likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources.
4.0 REPORTING PROCESS AND HIERARCHY:
4.1 Employees should raise concerns to the General Manager Audit.
4.2 A member of the Board may raise his concerns to the Chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee or to the Chairman of the Board.
4.3 Concerns may be raised verbally or in writing. Staff who wish to make a written report are encouraged to provide information on following lines on a plain paper/e-mail:
• the background and history of the concern (giving relevant dates);
• the reason why they are particularly concerned about the situation.
4.4 Although the whistle blower is not expected to prove beyond doubt the truth of an allegation, he/she will need to demonstrate to the official contacted that there are reasonable grounds for concern.
5.0 DEALING WITH REPORTS/COMPLAINTS:
5.1 BBK is committed to investigating and addressing all reported cases under his policy.
5.2 In order to protect individuals and those accused of misdeeds or possible malpractice, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. Concerns or allegations which fall within the scope of specific procedures (such as HR grievance procedures, complaints procedure etc) should normally be referred by the employee or the designated officer to concerned official under those procedures.
5.3 Some concerns may get resolved/addressed without the need for detailed investigation. If urgent administrative action is required then required steps will be taken by the designated official before any investigation is conducted.
5.4 The amount of contact between the officers considering the issues and the whistle blower will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, further information would be sought from the whistle blower.
5.5 After preliminary examination, where appropriate, the matters raised may be:
• investigated by Internal Audit;
• referred to the External Auditor;
• referred to Audit and Compliance Committee of the Board;
• referred to the police.
5.6 The Bank will take steps to minimise any difficulties which the whistle blower may experience as a result of raising a concern. For instance, if the whistle blower is required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings, the Bank will arrange for him/her to receive advice about the applicable procedures.
5.7 The Bank accepts that the whistle blower needs to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Therefore, subject to legal and confidentiality constraints, the Bank will inform the whistle blower of the outcome of any investigation.
6.0 POLICY OVERSIGHT AND OWNERSHIP:
6.1 The Audit and Compliance Committee has the responsibility of overseeing this policy and its compliance.
6.2 The implementation and ownership of this policy will be with the GM, Audit. He will submit a quarterly report to the Audit Committee covering the number of reports received, steps taken and their status.
7.0 THE DESIGNATED OFFICER:
7.1 As described in section 4 the GM Audit would be the ‘designated officer’ under this policy
7.2 The Designated Officer, will report each complaint/report to the Audit and Compliance Committee. The case/complaint should however be handled as per the process described above.
7.3 The GM Audit has overall responsibility for the maintenance and operation of this policy. The GM Audit would arrange for maintaining record of concerns raised and the outcome (in a form which does not endanger confidentiality) and will report, as and when necessary, to the Audit and Compliance Committee of the Board of Directors.
7.4 The Audit and Compliance Committee, within its discretion, will apprise the Board suitably.
8.0 FLEXIBILITY TO WHISTLE BLOWER:
8.1 If the whistle blower feels that it is his/her right to take the matter beyond the above mentioned designated officials then following are possible contact points:
• Independent Directors
• Chairman of the Board of Directors
9.1 This policy should be made accessible to all the Directors, staff members and disclosed on the website and intranet. It should be included in the HR and compliance policies.