Chapter 8

Anonymous Communications

W. McKay (Mac) Henderson and Peter J. Greaves

An increasingly frequent occurrence in the corporate world is receipt of an anonymous communication1 that suggests the existence of issues within or affecting an organization and usually relaying a broad range of allegations. Anonymous communications, often called tips, may take various forms, including a posted letter, telephone call, fax, or e-mail. In years past, some recipients may have felt comfortable disregarding communications of this type. However, in today's environment such communications are usually taken seriously, and an effort is made to resolve the allegations. By their very nature, such investigations are triggered suddenly and generally require a prompt and decisive response—even if only to establish that the allegations are unfounded or purely mischievous. The allegations may be general statements or they may be very specific, identifying names, documents, situations, transactions, or issues. The initiators of such tips are motivated by a variety of factors, ranging from monetary recovery (substantial monetary recovery is available to whistle-blowers under the U.S. False Claims Act, discussed in later pages), moral outrage, and genuine concern over an issue to the desire of a disgruntled employee to air an issue or undermine a colleague.

While anonymous tips are by no means new phenomena, legislation such as the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, corporate ...

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