Fraud Basics

Swiss whistleblowers pay the price

And would think twice before doing it again



Whistleblowers are “in.” We regularly hear spectacular U.S. stories of employees blowing the whistle on organizations and receiving large federal payouts from prosecution of multimillion-dollar fraud cases. But what’s the whistleblower situation in Europe and, more specifically, my home base, Switzerland?

Yasmine Motarjemi told me her whistleblowing tale during a recent interview and through letters. In 2010, the then Nestlé manager decided to make her fight public after her dismissal. Ten years earlier, Nestlé had hired Motarjemi, who holds a doctorate in food engineering, to improve food safety.

From the beginning of her tenure, Motarjemi noted gaps in internal controls and in the expertise of the staff. Food safety is based on specifications, such as levels of pollution thresholds, which organizations must regularly check. However, Nestlé hadn’t checked on some specifications for 20 years. This neglect could’ve led to serious problems in some products, such as baby food.

When Motarjemi refused to sign untested specifications, Nestlé assigned this responsibility to someone else. She also said that Nestlé had bought cheap, contaminated raw material from China. The then France director for food safety wasn’t pleased. When he then became Motarjemi‘s manager, her problems began.

 


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