Reports are an important source of information for the Financial Market Authority (FMA). Whistle-blowers can contribute to clearing up of irregularities, thereby limiting or even preventing damages.
The FMA has been operating a special IT-based whistleblowing system since 1 February 2014 that allows the anonymous receipt of confidential information about possible instances of malpractice in supervised entities. In so doing, the FMA has not only created a central point of contact that is responsible for receiving reports, but has also established a special tool and a dedicated procedure to protect whistle-blowers and persons who are affected by the report.
Informants or whistle-blowers are persons who have special knowledge about the internal workings of an entity, who in making a report wish to make a contribution to the prevention of malpractice. Submitted reports form an important source of information for the FMA ‘s investigatory and inspection activities. Whistle-blowers can contribute to the clearing up of irregularities, thereby limiting the extent of damage or even prevent it from occurring.
Whistle-blowers are persons who typically become aware of irregularities in an entity as a result of their professional position (e.g. as employees or persons subject to particular contractual or trust relationships).
It is important to differentiate between whistle-blowers and consumers submitting a complaint to the FMA or who wish to make an enquiry to the FMA. Parties making a compliant usually feel personally dismayed and that they have suffered some personal disadvantage, for example, in their business relationship with a bank or an insurance company. The FMA has a separate contact address for such cases:[email protected]
Information about submitting complaints to the FMA can be found under the following link: https://www.fma.gv.at/en/complaints-and-points-of-contact/
It is not possible to communicate with consumers via the channels of communication for whistle-blowers.
The following channels of communication are available for whistle-blowers:
- An IT-based whistle-blower system for receiving anonymous reports and for anonymous communications, which can be reached through the landing page of the FMA’s website
- In writing, either as written or electronic correspondence
- By telephone 0800 – 249 900
- Verbally towards the staff members of the Whistle-blowing Point of Contact at the FMA ‘s premises
Austrian Financial Market Authority
Whistle-Blowing Point of Contact
Hotline 0800 – 249 900
The FMA ‘s whistle-blowing point of contact is the central point for receiving and carrying out initial checks on submitted reports as well as for communicating with anonymous whistle-blowers through the IT-based whistle-blowing system. When the whistle-blowing point of contact receives a report, specialist employees check whether the area of jurisdiction of the FMA as well as of an entity supervised by the FMA is affected, as well as whether the report contains relevant information.
The reports that are classified as being relevant are then submitted to the relevant affected specialist divisions. These divisions then pursue the report further. In the event that the specialist division arrives at the conclusion that measures are required to be taken under supervisory law, then it shall initiate such measures.
It is possible to set up a postbox to allow anonymous communications in the IT-based whistle-blowing system. This is necessary to allow the clarification of issues that are discovered during the investigations that are conducted. Communications via the postbox are usually very quick. Whistle-blowers therefore make a substantial contribution towards the success of the investigation.
The FMA is able to use this protected postbox not only for asking questions, but also for providing replies. Since all theFMA ‘s bodies and employees are subject to the legal obligation to maintain official secrecy, we are unable to provide any response relating to the progress and findings relating to our procedures. This also ensures that a person affected by a report is also protected during the investigations.
To provide effective protection for whistle-blowers, the FMA has launched a secure communications platform using the latest technologies to allow the anonymous reports using a certificate-based encryption process. Provided that whistle-blowers do not submit any information that allows the information to be traced back to them, the whistle-blowing system also protects their anonymity on a technical level in communications conducted using the postbox.
It is also possible to set up a personal protected postbox in the system used by the FMA , to allow the whistle-blower to communicate anonymously with the FMA , thus ensuring that the whistle-blower’s anonymity is also protected by technical means during such communications.
All staff members and bodies of the FMA are subject to the legal obligation of official secrecy, thereby ensuring that both the identity of the whistle-blower as well as persons affected by reports are protected. The FMA also has specialised procedures in place to protect personal data, and separate confidentiality areas exist within the FMA , as well as the possibility to handle certain files confidentially during investigations by means of access restrictions.
In certain cases, it may be the case that the FMA is obliged to pass on information that it is aware of. In the event that you do not submit the report anonymously, but disclose your identity or other personal information either deliberately or accidentally, please note that the disclosure of personal information such as within criminal investigations may lead to the identification of the whistle-blower.