Whistleblowing Report 2017 – Practice in the Swiss private sector

Zurich, November 21, 2017. ECS members and guests attended the presentation of the new Whistleblowing Report 2018 in Zurich. Dr. Christian Hauser from HTW Chur – the University of Applied Sciences – presented the results from the first scientific study on whistleblowing in the Swiss private sector. Among other interesting results, the study shows that around 70% of companies with over 249 employees have a whistleblowing process in place, that over 50% of all whistleblowing reports received are classified as relevant and only 3% are classified as malicious. In the second presentation, Zacharias Huwyler from Integrity Line GmbH provided some interpretations and recommendations based on the new results. For example, it can be observed that quality and quantity of reports increase if the whistleblowing channels are opened for third parties such as suppliers or clients. The interpretation of this is, that information about certain types of misconduct may almost exclusively be present outside the affected company. Therefore, it is recommendable to open whistleblowing channels also for third parties. The event closed with a networking apéro.

The study can be downloaded online: www.whistleblowingreport.ch

New ECS Working Group Return on Compliance, 19 January 2018

Join our new ECS Working that will address the question which continues to elude the compliance community after many years: can one quantify the benefits of compliance? And if so, how best? The goal is to go beyond measuring the costs of non-compliance and probe into measuring the return of the investment on compliance. This Working Group will seek to deliver evidence of such return.

The Group will be hold its first meeting
19 January 2018, 14:00 to 16:00, BDO Office, Zurich, Schiffbaustrasse 2.

If you are interested in joining the group, send your name to info@ethics-compliance.ch , copying in philipp.luettmann@bdo.ch.

International Bar Association: The Panama Papers are a tipping point for reform

The record leak of 11.5 million documents sheds unprecedented light on the workings of the world’s financial centres. Public and political opinions have shifted markedly and the clamour to end years of obstructive secrecy are now more unequivocal than ever before.

At the Paris IBA Anti-Corruption Conference on 15- 16 June 2016, IBA president David Rivkin noted that lawyers play a vital role in investigating, prosecuting and bringing to justice those who are engaged in corruption. ‘They are an essential part of the battle against corruption,’ he said. The IBA has undertaken considerable work in the areas of anti-corruption, combatting money laundering and, last year, launched a Judicial Integrity Initiative aimed at eliminating judicial corruption.

Link: www.ibanet.org

Speak-up Culture event in Zurich

On 3 March 2016 Ethics and Compliance Switzerland held its first annual General Meeting of Members in Zurich followed by a presentation and panel discussion on the topic of “speak-up culture”. Gabe Shawn Varges, ECS board member, moderated the event and kicked-off by outlining various means by which companies are working to stimulate an internal culture of openness, where discussion on risk and ethical issues is not only tolerated but encouraged. One means of encouraging those who have a concern to raise it are channels of communication alternative to traditional hierarchy, including dedicated mechanisms that allow also for at least confidential or, if technically provided for, anonymous communication. Dominique Casutt and Fabienne Sonderegger followed by presenting the findings of the ECS guideline on the “Key Success Factors for Implementing an Internal Speak-Up Procedure”. They emphasized that whistleblowing such reporting lines support a speak-up culture if properly conceived and operated. They listed key success factors, including:

1. Sponsorship and commitment from the Board and top management as well as from other relevant stakeholders.
2. Management of expectations, regulatory requirements, cultural factors and resources and embedment of reporting procedure into general Compliance Management efforts.
3. Effectiveness of reporting and investigation procedures in terms of functionality, awareness (“communication and training”), associated roles and responsibilities (“ownership”), transparency, fairness and professionalism, including adequate protective as well as corrective measures and continuous monitoring and improvement.

Laurie Waddy, Head of Group Compliance at Lafarge-Holcim, followed by describing the big picture challenges of a chief compliance officer, including the cultural elements in the context of two large companies from different countries merging. She emphasized the need to see things from different angles and working with other functions.

The session ended with an animated roundtable discussion. Touched on were subjects such as national legal considerations for implementing whistleblowing lines, how likely employees are to use or misuse such lines, the importance of properly communicating on the existence and purpose of whistleblowing lines, and the use of various types of technology for reporting.

ECS General Meeting of Members and Speak-Up Culture Event (3 March 2016)

ECS General Meeting of Members

The first ECS General Meeting of Members will take place on Thursday, 3 March 2016, at 15:00 at Zunfthaus zum Rüden, Limmatquai 42, in Zurich.

The General Meeting of Members will take place from 15:00 to 15:45. Only ECS members are admitted to the General Meeting of Members.

From 16:00 to 18:00, all interested persons are warmly invited and welcomed to our “Whistleblowing and Speak-up Culture” event, organized by the Working Groups on Whistleblowing and on Leadership. The Working Groups will present their best practice guide on establishing and maintaining an organizational speak-up culture.

The presentation will be followed first by a key note speech given by Ms Laurie Waddy, Head Group Compliance and Deputy General Counsel at LafargeHolcim, and then a panel discussion with Ms Laurie Waddy and Ms Dominique Casutt (Co-Chair WG CMS/ISO and former CCO at Syngenta). The panel discussion will be moderated by Gabe Shawn Varges, member of the Board of ECS.

We will close the event with a networking apéro riche.

Please send your registration for the General Meeting of Members (in case you are a member) and the Speak-Up Culture event to info@ethics-compliance.ch by 26 February 2016.

Kindly sponsored by:


ECS General Meeting of Members and Speak-Up Culture Event (3 March 2016) – And: Update WGs

ECS General Meeting of Members

As mentioned in our newsletter in December, ECS‘ first General Meeting of Members will take place on Thursday, 3 March 2016, at 15:00h at Zunfthaus zum Rüden, Limmatquai 42, in Zurich. Please save the date.

The General Meeting of Members will take place from 15:00h to 15:45h (the General Meeting is for ECS members only).

From 16:00h to 18:00h, all interested persons are warmly invited and welcome to our “Whistleblowing and Speak-up Culture” event, organized by the Working Groups on Whistleblowing and on Leadership. The Working Groups will present their best pracitce guide on establishing and maintaining an organizational speak-up culture.

The presentation will be followed first by a key note speach given by Ms Laurie Waddy, Head Group Compliance and Deputy General Counsel at LafargeHolcim, and then a panel discussion with Ms Laurie Waddy and Ms Dominique Casutt (Co-Chair WG CMS/ISO and former CCO at Syngenta). The panel discussion will be moderated by Gabe Shawn Varges, member of the Board of ECS.

The General Meeting of Members and the event will close between 17:30h and 18:00h with a networking apéro riche.

Invitations by e-mail will follow in the coming days. Registrations for the General meeting of Members and the Speak-Up Culture event can already be made to info@ethics-compliance.ch .

WG Lifesciences – Meeting on Compliance Management System Standard ISO 19600 and Pros and Cons of Certification

Please also take note that Working Group Life Sciences will meet on February 12, 2016, in Zurich to discuss the content of the newly created ISO 19600 Standard on Compliance Management Systems, in particular the pros and cons of obtaining an ISO 19600 certification. Daniel Bühr, member of the Swiss Association for Standardisation SNV and a member of the project committee that established the Standard, will present. Registrations can be made to Patrick Wellens, Co-Chair of the Working Group Lifesciences: patrick.wellens@bayer.com .


EU Commission finalises the proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation

On 15 December 2015 the European Commission finalised the draft of the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (the General Data Protection Regulation).

Under the proposed standardised EU rules, the statutory framework will become clearer and companies will likely face more scrutiny be regulators. Fines for corporate infringements may amount up to 4 percent of annual global revenue.
The draft Regulation, for instance, stipulates a right of the data subject to erasure by the data controller (“right to be forgotten“) and a right to data portability. And personal data breaches must be reported by the controller not later than 72 hours to the competent supervisory authority.

The European Parliament and Council are expected to adopt the Regulation in 2016. It would then enter into force two years later.

ECS represented at the Krynica Economic Forum in Poland

On 9 September 2015 Daniel Bühr represented ECS at a panel discussion on Compliance management at this year’s Krynica Economic Forum in Poland (the “Davos Forum” of Eastern Europe).

Under the chair of Professor Dr Bartosz Makowicz of the University of Muenster, Germany, and together with Ms Veronica Sedlarova (Siemens, Czech Republic), Dr Anna Partyka-Opiela (Domanski Zakrzewski Palinka, Poland) and Dr Karin Holloch (McDermott Will & Emery, Germany) Daniel spoke about the importance of organizational ethics and integrity, the general status of governance, risk and compliance management in Switzerland and ECS’ initiatives to promote and build a Swiss Governance, Risk and Compliance community to facilitate the exchange of knowhow and best practices.

Update ECS Project „Internal Speak-up Procedures“

In the course of its project to develop a guideline on “Key success factors for implementing internal speak-up procedures” and other supporting materials, the ECS Working Group Whistleblowing discussed the input received so far from representatives of various organisations on 8 September 2015. All information has been consolidated and a first draft of the guideline is expected to be available for comments soon. The final guideline will be launched in Q1 2016.

At this stage, all individuals with experience in setting up and operating internal reporting mechanisms are highly welcome to share their views and recommendations with us to ensure that the final guideline broadly reflects best-practice standards and is considered a helpful tool for organisations that are interested in implementing reporting mechanisms.

Anybody interested in contributing to the project providing best practice information, kindly register for our Working Group Whistleblowing.

Stimulating Discussions at ECS „End of Summer“ Roundtable

How should the Chief Compliance Officer work with the Chief Risk Officer and the Head of Internal Audit? Who should report to whom? When should one inform the other on matters they are working on?

These were among the many questions that were debated at the August 25 Leadership Working Group’s end of summer roundtable, held in the lively Seefeld quarter of Zurich. Eighteen attendees took part in the roundtable and contributed to the invigorating discussion kindly hosted by SFR Tobacco International/Reynolds American.

A few key points emerged: 1) each of these functions is critical for providing independent views and reviews, 2) ideally they should be equal partners, with none reporting to the other, 3) differences may be seen among industries, including in some where the CRO only focuses on financial or other more specific risks, 4) the area of operational risk should bring the Chief Compliance Officer and the CRO to a regular dialog, and 5)the extent and nature of cooperation and exchange is situational… it may be more or less intense in different times or on different matters.

The event concluded with further discussion at a nearby pub where there was no disagreement on the pleasantness of social interaction among people sharing similar passions for the importance of compliance and ethics. Further roundtables on different focused subjects are planned for the future.

ECS WG CMS/ISO discussed the ISO 19600 Principles of Good Governance

On 30 June the Working Group CMS/ISO met for the second time in Zürich and discussed the principles of good governance as set out in ISO 19600, in particular direct access to the governing body, independence of the compliance function, appropriate authority and adequate resources. After an introductory presentation the participants had a lively discussion on the subject matter followed by specific questions raised by Working Group members regarding ISO 19600.

It was agreed that the next meeting will take place in September. The first part of the meeting will be used to discuss the purpose of the Working Group and its envisaged output going forward; for the second part it is planned to invite a Chief Compliance Officer from an organisation which has already been certified according to ISO 19600 to share first-hand insights regarding the certification process. Date and agenda of the meeting will be announced in due time.


ECS WG Life Sciences discussed EFPIA Reporting

On 5 June 2015 the Working Group Life Sciences met in the offices of BDO in Basel and discussed the topic “EFPIA transparency reporting”. The participants discussed and exchanged practices around the scope of EPFIA, consent management, attestation process, implementation solutions and challenges, systems and sources used to track transfers of values.

It was agreed that the next meeting will take place on 16 October 2015 in the offices of Novo Nordisk in Zurich. The meeting will focus on “ fair market value” for interactions with healthcare professionals, healthcare organizations and CROs. To register for this event please contact Patrick Wellens, Co-Chair WG Life Sciences.

Whistleblowing proposal referred back to the Swiss Federal Council

Yesterday the Swiss National Council debated on the legislative proposal on whistleblower protection and decided to refer it back to the Federal Council for revision. The Council of States had approved the proposal only applying minor changes in 2014.

In view of the ongoing legislative debate in Switzerland the ECS Working Group on Whistleblowing established a White Paper comparing the Swiss legislative proposal with international standards and best practices.

ECS was approached by different media on the subject matter after yesterday’s session of parliament. Today Le Temps published the interview with Daniel L. Bühr, Vice Chair ECS.

6 May 2015, Le Temps

Syngenta Chairman speaks at ECS Leadership Event

DSC_0396The Chairman of Syngenta, Michel Demaré, emphasized the importance today of compliance-informed leadership, at an event organized by Ethics and Compliance Switzerland.

The event, focused on the role of leadership for effective compliance, was hosted by Syngenta at its headquarters in Basel and moderated by Gabe Shawn Varges.

To the question as to whether he has seen the attitude to compliance change among Boards in the past years, Mr. Demaré recalled several experiences from his 35-year career. He indicated that he has observed significant cultural change at various levels, including among Boards of Directors and senior managers. Regardless of the company or the industry, he underscored the continuing need for all leaders, including members of the Board and of Compliance functions, to be well informed and not be afraid of difficult issues. Mr. Demaré suggested one simple test for making tough decisions: ‘If you have any hesitation – could you tell your family about the decision? ’.

Mr. Demaré, who serves as well on the Board of UBS and SwissHoldings, and is former CFO of ABB, also answered questions from the audience, bringing to bear both his Board and executive leader perspective. He touched on various topics, including the risk of “compliance fatigue” and the need for Board members to hear directly from the heads of the control functions and meet with employees at town-halls and similar events.

Following Mr. Demaré, the discussion continued with a panel consisting of Alexander Zinser (Reynolds American), Robert Lutz (Swissgrid) and Roman Mazzotta (Syngenta). They gave their views on the role and leadership obligations at the level of the compliance officer, including on promoting cultural change.

Answering several questions from the moderator and the audience, the panelists saw themselves as multipliers for the compliance message by empowering people to speak up as leaders, by holding them accountable, and by reminding them regularly of the personal and business value of Compliance.

The ECS event was organized by the ECS Working Group on Leadership. This group will continue its work on multi-level leadership and on the scope of topics which a Compliance Officer should seek to influence.

In the above connection, one last question was asked by the audience: ‘What place does Compliance have alongside other corporate social and cultural initiatives? Is it positive to look beyond compliance or should it be avoided for the risk of blurring the lines among Diversity & Inclusion, Corporate Responsibility and Compliance?’ Varges indicated that challenging questions such as this will be taken up at future events by the Working Group and invited audience members to join ECS and the Working Group on Leadership. He also informed that there other working groups at ECS, including on Life Science, Whistleblowing, Compliance Management Systems and SMO’s.

How to join ECS

How to join a Working Group

ECS releases Whitepaper on Whistleblower legislation in Switzerland

With a view to the Swiss Parliament’s special session which starts on 4 May 2015 and in particular the National Council’s discussion of the legislative proposal on whistleblower protection, scheduled for 5 May 2015, ECS’ Working Group on Whistleblowing established a White Paper comparing the Swiss legislative proposal with international standards and best practice.

ECS’ White Paper shows that the Swiss whistleblower proposal falls short of international standards on the possibility to file reports anonymously and on protecting whistleblowers from retaliation. According to the legislative proposal, whistleblowers who report in good faith can still be dismissed and companies retaliating against whistleblowers are not subject to adequate penalties or criminal fines.

Furthermore, the legislative proposal foresees a de facto ban of reports to the public (i.e. to journalists or specialised organisations) even in the case of severe misconduct and inactivity of the competent authorities. The White Paper recommends that the Swiss legislative proposal be revised in order to explicitly state that anonymous reporting is permitted, that retaliation against whistleblowers is illicit, null and void, and subject to penalties and that – as a last resort – reports to the public are permitted.

ECS Whitepaper on Whistleblowing April 2015

Kick Off Working Group Life Sciences

During the first Working Group Life Science kick off call beginning March we had an animated discussion whether consultants, advisors, government officials, authorities etc. should be included or excluded from the Working Group. It was then agreed that this discussion could not take place in our working Group but needs to happen at the Board of ECS.

At its meeting of 9 March 2015 the Board of ECS discussed this topic in detail and came to the conclusion that we must stick to the by-laws and spirit of ECS as an association which promotes ethical leadership and integrity in all organizations and is open to all who share an interest in integrity and compliance management, indiscriminately of whether a member works in-house or not. Hence we must not exclude anyone who is interested in participating in the Life Sciences Working Group.

In order to address the concerns expressed by some members, the Board decided to issue a guideline specifying Article 4.4 of the by-laws, i.e. the members’ duty to abstain from marketing and lobbying in the frame of ECS’ activities. The Board confirmed that members must not market their services and must refrain from lobbying third party interests in the frame of ECS’ activities.

Feedback was obtained from all participants with regards to future topics of interest for our Life Science Working Group and this will be further discussed in the next meeting on April 17 at the premises of Bayer.

All interested WG participants are welcome. If you would like to join the Working Group Life Sciences please register.

First Meeting Working Group CMS/ISO in Zurich

At the first face to face meeting of 16 March 2015 in Zurich, the ISO Standard 19600 and the certification concept of Austrian Standards were presented to the members of the WG (12 participants attending, 3 excused).

The participants discussed the Standard and independent audits of Organizations with regard to their Compliance Management Systems. The participants agreed that ISO 19600 may become a benchmark because it is the first global standard on compliance management systems. Questions focused on the best approach to implement a compliance management system, in particular on how to secure Board and Top Management attention, buy-in and support. Also, the concept and benefits of certification were discussed.

The Working Group decided that it wants to act as the ECS point of contact for Compliance Management Systems and that it intends to meet bi-annually in person to further discuss CMS and ISO topics of common interest. A next meeting will be scheduled for the second half of June.

ECS Event Premiere


iStock_000012204568LargeECS organized its first networking event for 2015 with expert speakers from the UK and Switzerland on the topic of whistleblowing in Basel.

How does the Swiss draft law on whistleblowing differ from the Recommendation of the Council of Europe to its member states on the protection of whistleblowers from 30 April 2014? How does U.S. legislation and practice compare to Europe , including after the adoption of the Dodd Frank Act of 2010? And, how do you successfully implement a new Whistleblowing Hotline in a manifold business environment?

Answers to these questions were given during three excellent and insightful presentations from Key Note Speakers Anna Myers (Public Concern at Work), Gabe Shawn Varges (ECS Board Member) and Philipp Lang (Compliance Officer at Migros). During the Q&A Session in particular the various dimensions of anonymous reporting were discussed at ECS’ first 2015 networking event of 29 January hosted in the offices of the Basel Institute on Governance in Basel.

With about 30 participants the event allowed direct discussions with the Whistleblowing Experts after their presentations and to start networking activities in 2015. The possibility to meet some of the Chairs of the future ECS Working Groups was really appreciated. In a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere over wine and refreshments many new contacts were initiated and after 3 ½ hours the last guest left at 8.30 pm.

Many thanks to Anna Myers and Gabe Shawn Varges for making their presentations available on our website. Special thanks go to Gemma Aiolfi and the team of the Basel Institute on Governance for their hospitality, taking the extra efforts to organize the catering and drinks and for staying extra hours.

We are looking forward to seeing you again at our next event that is planned for 22 April 2015 on the topic of Leadership. Please save the date. More details to follow soon.

ISO publishes International Compliance Management System Standard

On 15 December 2014 the International Organization for Standardization ISO published International Standard ISO 19600:2014 – Compliance Management Systems. The first global standard on systematic compliance management provides guidance for establishing, developing, implementing, evaluating, maintaining and improving an effective and responsive compliance management system within an organization (public as well as private). In its introduction to the Standard, ISO states that an organization’s approach to compliance is shaped by the leadership applying core values and that embedding compliance in the behaviour of the people working for an organization depends above all on leadership at all levels and clear values of an organization, as well as an acknowledgement and implementation of measures to promote compliant behaviour.

The Standard, by way of example, defines key terms such as compliance, compliance obligation, compliance risk, compliance culture etc., mentions the essential principles of good compliance governance (access of the compliance function to the governing body/board, independence, appropriate authority and adequate resources of the compliance function) and refers to International Standard ISO 31000 – Risk management (according to OECD the de-facto world standard for risk management) for the identification, analysis, evaluation and treatment of risks.

The Standard was established in by experts from 16 countries and is available with ISO.

ECS will establish a Working Group Compliance Management Systems / ISO (WG CMS/ISO) at the beginning of 2015. More information on the Working Group will be provided in due course.

Press Release ECS Inaugural Meeting

Pressrelease, May 23, 2014

ABB, Nestle, Swisscom und Syngenta unter den Gründungsmitgliedern

Gründung «Ethics and Compliance Switzerland» (ECS)

Die Förderung von Ethik und Integrität in privaten und öffentlichen Organisationen in der Schweiz und die Entwicklung und Einführung nachhaltiger Compliance–Best Practices gehören zu den Zielen der ersten interdisziplinären Schweizer Compliance-Fachgesellschaft «Ethics and Compliance Switzerland». Neben namhaften Schweizer Firmen zählen auch Vertreter von Behörden, NGOs und Bildungsinstitutionen zu den Mitgliedern.

Bern, 23. Mai 2014. Vertreter aus Wirtschaft, öffentlicher Hand, NGOs und Hochschulen sowie Compliance-Experten gründeten am 22. Mai 2014 in Bern die erste interdisziplinäre Schweizer Compliance-Fachgesellschaft. «Ethics and Compliance Switzerland» (ECS) ist ein gemeinnütziger Verein, der Ethik und Integrität in allen privaten und öffentlichen Organisationen in der Schweiz fördern will. In den Vorstand gewählt wurde u.a. Prof. Dr h.c. Paolo Bernasconi, ehemaliger Staatsanwalt im Kanton Tessin und Professor Emeritus der Universität St. Gallen

ECS richtet sich an öffentliche und private Organisationen sowie Einzelpersonen, die sich mit wirksamem Werte- und Compliance-Management befassen. Gründungsmitglieder sind unter anderem ABB, Bayer, Givaudan, Landis+Gyr, Nestlé, Swisscom, Syngenta und Zürich Versicherungen, sowie rund 35 Einzelmitglieder welche sich in der Anwaltschaft und der Beratung, bei der öffentlichen Hand, in der Privatwirtschaft, in der Wissenschaft und bei NGOs mit Ethik und Integrität befassen.

Diese breite, interdisziplinäre Unterstützung zeigt, dass es beim Thema Compliance längst nicht mehr bloss darum geht, hohe Bussen und Sanktionen infolge gesetzeswidrigen Verhaltens zu vermeiden. Vielmehr werden ethische Werte und Integrität in einer zunehmend transparenten globalisierten Welt als zentrale Erfolgsfaktoren erkannt. Ohne eine einwandfreie internationale Reputation ist jede erfolgreiche öffentliche oder private Tätigkeit gefährdet.

Zu den ersten Aktivitäten des Vereins wird die Bildung von Arbeitsgruppen zu Schlüsselthemen, wie beispielsweise systematisches Werte- und Integritätsmanagement und die Vermeidung von Korruption gehören. Ein weiteres wichtiges Projekt ist die Erarbeitung einfacher und robuster Compliance Massnahmen für KMUs. Darüber hinaus bildet die Erarbeitung von Standards für die Ausbildung und Zertifizierung von Compliance-Fachleuten einen weiteren Schwerpunkt.

Ethics and Compliance Switzerland entstand aus dem „National Compliance Round Table“, einer privaten Initiative der beiden Rechtsanwälte Daniel Bühr und Bettina Egli, die auf ein breites landesweites Interesse stiess. Im Januar 2014 beschlossen die Teilnehmer dieser Initiative die Gründung des Vereins «Ethics and Compliance Switzerland».