14 anti-fraud and corruption organizations meet for the second time in the Participation Council of the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency (AVAF)

València, July 1, 2020.- The second meeting of the Participation Council of the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency (AVAF) was held, which was established in October 2019. 14 civic and social organizations that work against the fraud and corruption and have among their purposes the transparency of public activity, good governance and the defense of the rights of citizens in the area of ​​the Valencian Community.

Among the topics covered on the agenda was the presentation of the AVAF Activity Report for the year 2019, which includes the performance of each of the Agency’s areas in relation to research, prevention and training, legal department in relation to the advice and protection of whistleblowers and institutional relations. One of the points that has aroused the greatest interest has been the data provided on the complaints filed in terms of their number, gender perspective or subject matter, among others.

This second meeting of the Participation Council takes place once the work of the two groups that were formed after the first meeting has been concluded. One of the groups is focused on training in public ethics and integrity as a tool for the prevention of fraud and corruption; while the second group focuses on the protection of those who report corruption.

Both groups have presented before the Plenary of the Consell the work carried out during these months as well as the conclusions and proposals they have reached, among which is the elaboration of a Decalogue for the Protection of Complainants and Alerters or expanding the actions of training to the school environment.

Another issue that has been discussed is the situation in which the transposition into the legal system of the European Directive 2019/1937, on the Protection of Persons Whistleblower of Corruption, better known as the “Whistleblower Directive”.

The meeting was held virtually and the following associations and entities participated:

  • Fundación por la Justicia
  • Tactical Whistleblowers
  • COSITAL València
  • Observatori Ciutadà contra la Corrupció (OCC)
  • Transparencia Internacional España
  • Asociación Valenciana de Consumidores y Usuarios (AVACU)
  • Asoc. Española Sujetos Obligados en Prevención del Blanqueo (ASEBLAC)
  • Fundación Internacional Baltasar Garzón (FIBGAR)
  • Alertadores contra la Corrupción, Whistle Blower
  • Senior Program Officer de Open Society Initative for Europe (OSIFE)
  • Acción Cívica contra la Corrupción
  • Plataforma por la Honestidad (PlxH)
  • Plataforma Ciutadana Castelló per la Justícia i Contra la Corrupció
  • Sindicato de Técnicos del Ministerio de Hacienda (GESTHA).
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The Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency requests the R.A.E. the inclusion of the word “retaliator” in the dictionary

València, June 25, 2020.- Last Tuesday, June 23, the World Alerting People Day – Whistleblowers was celebrated, which aims to recognize the role of all those who report cases of fraud and corruption.

Coinciding with the celebration of that day, the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency (AVAF) has begun the procedures to propose to the Royal Spanish Academy of the Language the inclusion in the dictionary of the word “retaliatory”, which does not exist at this time.

The dictionary includes the term “retaliation”, used more in the plural, and the complete conjugation of the verb “retaliate”, meaning “punish, retaliate”, but not the word “retaliatory”.

If “retaliated”, which is also found in the dictionary, is the participle of “retaliate”, and therefore the person who receives a response of “punishment or revenge as a result of an attack or offense”, “retaliatory” is that person that performs such action.

The AVAF has among its functions the protection of people who alert, denounce or report acts of fraud or corruption, and finds in the actions it directs to this end that they endure constant acts of intimidation, pressure or punishment in their daily lives such as consequence of the complaint, the alert or the information provided to clarify the facts of an investigation or to prevent corruption.

Whistleblowers or whistleblowers are a key piece in the fight against corruption. However, doing so implies situations of workplace harassment, harassment, financial repercussions, unfair disciplinary proceedings, accusations for crimes not committed and even dismissal.

Said acts of punishment or revenge, retaliation, are carried out by the people to whom the complaint or the information refers, or by people from this environment. They are the retaliators.

In accordance with Law 11/2016, of November 28, of the Generalitat, creating the Agency for the Prevention and Fight against Corruption of the Valencian Community (AVAF), retaliators are punished. Now also in accordance with the European Directive 2019/1937 for the protection of whistleblowers or whistleblowers.

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June 23 World Whistleblower Day

The cornerstone of any State strategy in the fight against corruption lays on the protection of those who denounce. Spain, fourteen years after adhering to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, still has not made the reformations of its legal and institutional system and does not guarantee protection for those who risk everything by warning of the existence of corrupt practices within public institutions or companies. Now, a European Union Directive, approved by its Parliament, falls upon this issue and requires Member States, those that have not yet done so, to adapt their laws to create safe warning channels and effective protection systems for the Whistleblowers. To remind it and reflect on it, June 23 has been chosen by international organizations that fight against fraud and corruption as to World Whistleblower Day.

Corruption is a drain by which 60,000 million euros disappear annually from our economic system, according to studies by the International Monetary Fund; 47,500 of which are lost only in the area of public procurement, as indicated by the National Commission of Markets and Competition, either due to cost overruns or to higher real prices due to the absence of competition and efficient controls in the execution and fulfillment of contracts. An important part of this immense flow feeds the black economy by creating dirty fortunes that end in tax havens. Corruption violates the constitutional principle of equality and puts public administrations at the service of dark plots. A democratic society that seeks the welfare and happiness of its citizens must not allow this to continue happening. Public resources obtained from taxes paid by all citizens should only serve the general interest and the benefit of the community.

However, the absence of integrity systems that regulate public administration, of legal reforms that prevent and fight against these bad practices and, especially, it is of the alarming deficit of institutional exemplarity, continue to foster a culture where corruption is considered something “natural” and those who denounces it, a whistleblower or a “sneak”.

The Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency (AVAF) knows this well, it is the only public institution in the Spanish State that by a law of the Valencian parliament has among its functions the protection of people who denounce fraud and corruption. Two dozens of protected people, in just over two years of operation, are a corollary of situations, an indicator that corruption continues to be embedded in our structures and that major changes in our legal system are necessary to stop them from being victims for fulfilling their duty, which has been none but defending an honest public administration and serving the general interest.

Spain’s delay in adapting its anti-corruption regulations is causing sentences to be passed, such as the recent one by a Seville court that sentences two years in prison for the crime of revealing secrets to a worker, Roberto Macías, who published the invoices that credited the diversion of subsidies from their union when those invoices should have been exposed on their transparency portal, having therefore long since lost the status of “secret information”, and their disclosure allowed them to recover tens of millions of defrauded euros. For the same criminal type but with better luck, Hervé Falciani was persecuted when the list of all the tax fraudsters that he turned over to the authorities allowed Spain to collect hundreds of millions of euros. The absence of highly qualified exemptions or mitigating factors is preventing businessmen who have been extorted by corrupt plots from denouncing the operation of such plots and thus uncovering cases that remain latent within our administrations. And, as if that were not enough, the insufficient regulations on the effective protection of whistleblowers, leads them to an ordeal of lawsuits filed with public money by authorities and corrupt plots that, in addition to causing economic ruin, breaks their personal and professional lives. Our current legal system dissuades and discourages the denunciation of corruption.

The Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the protection of persons who report breaches of the legal system aims precisely to prevent this. However, this was also intended by the United Nations Convention against Corruption. We hope and wish that the necessary reformations of our legal and institutional system are made with the Directive, unlike with the Convention.

Posted on: 23/06/2020