New EU anonymous whistleblower service
Whistle-blowers who want to report secret business deals, like price-fixing, can now use an anonymous tool to inform the EU competition authorities.
Unveiled in Brussels today, the new service is designed to make it easier to tackle secret cartels agreeing on prices or procurement bids, keeping products off the market or unfairly excluding rivals.
The tool used is a specially designed encryption service, run at arms-length from the Commission by an external body. It allows two-way communication without passing on meta-data, keeping the whistle-blower's anonymity safe.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said "If people are concerned by business practices that they think are wrong, they can help put things right. Inside knowledge can be a powerful tool to help the Commission uncover cartels and other anti-competitive practices. With our new tool it is possible to provide information, while maintaining anonymity. Information can contribute to the success of our investigations quickly and more efficiently to the benefit of consumers and the EU's economy as a whole".
Price fixing and other anti-competitive practices mean that certain goods and services are over-priced, innovation is stifled and some companies are put out of business.
Until now, most cartels have been detected through the Commission's leniency programme, which allows businesses to report their own involvement in a cartel in exchange for a reduction of the fine imposed on them.
The information provided by the whistle-blower can be facts concerning anti-competitive conduct, its circumstances and the individuals involved, in the past, ongoing or planned.
Because the tool is two-way, the whistle–blower also has the option of getting a reply from the Commission and lets the Commission ask for clarifications. It aims to get enough precise and reliable information to let the Commission to follow up the leads with an investigation where there is illegal activity.
Individuals who are willing to reveal their identity can contact the Commission's competition department directly through a dedicated phone number and e-mail address.
The new service is accessible via this link.