How can we bring whistleblowers forward?
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
The following is an interview with Sylvain Mansotte, Co-Founder & CEO, Whispli.
RB: Sylvain, thanks for this interview. Perhaps you can tell us a little about your background?
SM: Thank you, Richard. I am originally from France and moved with my family to Australia in 2005. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have incredible experience working with first class organisations such as Faurecia, Schneider Electric, and Leighton Holdings to name but a few. During that time I was focusing on Sourcing, Supply Chain and Procurement. Now I am a co-founder and the CEO of Whispli.
RB: Well, why did you launch Whispli, which I believe was relatively recently. How does it differ from what was available from prior platforms?
SM: In 2012, while working in the procurement department of Leighton Holdings, one of the world’s largest construction companies, I uncovered a $20.7 million fraud perpetrated by a senior finance manager, which was occurring over a 12 year period. During the process of blowing the whistle on this crime and in my subsequent experience as a fraud and risk manager, I was astonished to discover that most organisations do not have appropriate systems enabling their people to come forward, and do so safely and without any fear. Whispli is the answer to that need. The Whispli platform provides safe, secure and anonymous two-way communication which can be used for a variety of different applications, not just for fraud reporting. There is truly nothing like Whispli on the market. Most reporting channels are unnecessarily complex and none are truly anonymous or easily accessible to staff.
There is no way to track the details of the whistleblower with our system, this ensures their safety, security and makes it more likely for people to come forward. People will speak up when given the opportunity. Once you have someone willing to speak up, most systems do not allow for continuous communication that will allow the investigator to access more information from the whistleblower and provide the whistleblower with support.
RB: How do you see your work as impacting the field of anti-corruption?
SM: The Whispli platform is an enabler, whether it is used to tackle corruption or any other type of reportable conduct. It is really about enabling individuals to do the right thing without fear of retribution or vilification. But when it comes to anti-corruption in particular, I see Whispli being used across a broad range of public and private Organisations, third party independent whistleblower providers, law enforcement and intelligence agencies who are all finding in our platform an affordable, effective and very practical way to tackle corruption, amongst other things, and to stop it in its tracks.
RB: Sylvain, I understand that you had some intersection with the recent Unaoil reporting. That was a big story. Where did you come in?
SM: As I mentioned Whispli can be used for more than internal fraud investigation. One of our products is designed for journalists to receive anonymous information and tips from sources that they normally wouldn’t have access to, it’s called JournoTips. The Unaoil story broke through Nick McKenzie, multiple Walkley Award winning investigative journalist from FairFax Media’s The Age Newspaper, and The Huffington Post. In his research into this story, Nick was able to track one main source who was willing to come forward but when he travelled to Paris to meet, the source didn’t show up. Subsequently to the story breaking out in the newspaper, Nick and the rest of The Age’s investigative journalist team began using Journotips, which led to them receiving a large number of relevant tips regarding this case and others.
RB: So tell us a little more about this video, it’s extremely engaging.
SM: Most people want to speak up. Whistleblowers have to have a tremendous amount of courage to come forward because, as we know, they do not have a history of being treated well. What’s more, when wrongdoing is happening the number 1 method that it is detected through is whistleblowers – so the question has to be asked: How many frauds and crimes go on undetected? The video is really aiming to show organisations that if we give whistleblowers their anonymity, they will do the right thing, they will speak up.
RB: Thanks, Sylvain, for those who want to contact you, what’s the best way to get in touch?
SM: You can find all the information about Whispli at https://whispli.com, or you can email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would also encourage organisations to try the platform on a 2-week free trial, which you can access here. You can also have access to all of the relevant industry information by following Whispli on Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.