This is PIMCO Australia’s policy about reporting suspicious activities and concerns and how those reports are handled. In this context, ‘PIMCO Australia’ means PIMCO Australia Pty Ltd (ABN 54 084 280 508; AFSL 246862) and PIMCO Australia Management Ltd (ABN 37 611 709 507; AFSL 487505).
1. Who this policy applies to?
This policy applies to the following Reporting Persons:
- Current and former officers, employees and service providers (including their employees) of PIMCO Australia and PIMCO-sponsored funds
- Associates of PIMCO Australia
- Relatives and dependants (including dependants of spouses) of the above
- Anyone else prescribed by regulation
2. Protected Disclosures
A Reporting Person is protected under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (“the Corporations Act”) if they make an Eligible disclosure to one of the Eligible Recipients identified below.
A disclosure is an Eligible Disclosure where the Reporting Person has reasonable grounds to suspect it concerns any of the following:
- misconduct (fraud, negligence, default, breach of trust and breach of duty) in relation to PIMCO Australia or its related body corporate
- an improper state of affairs or circumstances in relation to PIMCO Australia or its related body corporate
- conduct by PIMCO Australia or its related body corporate, or a director or employee of any of those, that:
- constitutes an offence against or contravention of the Corporations Act, ASIC Act 2001, Banking Act 1959, Financial Sector (Collection of Data) Act 2001, Insurance Act 1973, Life Insurance Act 1995, National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 or the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 or an instrument made under any of these Acts; or
- constitutes an offence against any other law of the Commonwealth punishable by imprisonment for 12 months or more; or
- represents a danger to the public or the financial system; or
- is prescribed by regulation.
A Reporting Person can still qualify for protection even if their disclosure turns out to be incorrect.
Disclosures that relate solely to personal work-related grievances, and do not involve any suspected misconduct amounting to an Eligible Disclosure, do not qualify for protection. However, a personal work-related grievance may still qualify as an Eligible Disclosure if:
- it includes information about misconduct
- the Reporting Person suffers from or is threatened with detriment for making a disclosure, or
- the Reporting Person shares details of the grievance when seeking legal advice or legal representation about the operation of the whistleblower protections under the Corporations Act. This disclosure will be protected even if the lawyer determines that it does not qualify as an Eligible Disclosure.
Eligible Disclosures will only be eligible for protection if made to one of the following Eligible Recipients:
- an officer or senior manager of PIMCO Australia
- an internal or external auditor or a member of the audit team auditing PIMCO Australia
- a person authorised by PIMCO Australia to receive disclosures that may qualify for protection, by emailing email@example.com
- ASIC, APRA or another Commonwealth body prescribed by regulation (“Regulatory Recipient”)
- in limited circumstances described below, to a journalist or parliamentarian.
Current officers and employees of PIMCO Australia have additional Eligible Recipients who are identified in information made available internally.
Disclosures may be made in person or by email, telephone or post.
A disclosure made to a legal practitioner for the purposes of obtaining legal advice or representation regarding the whistleblower provisions in the Corporations Act is also protected, even where the legal practitioner concludes that the disclosure is not an Eligible Disclosure.
3. Public interest and emergency disclosures
Eligible Disclosures can also be made to a journalist or parliamentarian under certain limited circumstances. A ‘public interest’ disclosure can be made where an Eligible Disclosure was made to a Regulatory Recipient at least 90 days ago and the discloser does not have reasonable grounds to believe action is or has been taken in response. The Reporting Person must first provide written notice (containing prescribed information) to the Regulatory Recipient to which the disclosure was originally made. Public interest disclosures must also meet certain other criteria (set out in the Corporations Act) to qualify for protection. A disclosure will only be a protected ‘emergency disclosure’ if (among other requirements) the Reporting Person has reasonable grounds to believe the information they are disclosing concerns a substantial and imminent danger to at least one person or the natural environment. Before making a public interest or emergency disclosure, please consider seeking independent legal advice.
4. How to make an Eligible Disclosure?
A Reporting Person can disclose to an Eligible Recipient anonymously and remain anonymous, and can refuse to answer questions that could reveal their identity, but should maintain communication with PIMCO Australia via an anonymous channel, such as by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. PIMCO Australia protects the anonymity of a Reporting Person through a number of measures, including communicating with Reporting Persons through anonymous telephone hotlines and email addresses.
5. What Protections apply to Eligible Disclosures?
A Reporting Person who makes an Eligible Disclosure in accordance with this policy is entitled to the following protections.
It is illegal to disclose the identity of a Reporting Person or information likely to lead to their identification, except:
- to or by ASIC, APRA or the Australian Federal Police
- to a Commonwealth, State or Territory authority to assist it to perform its functions or duties
- to a legal practitioner to obtain legal advice or representation about the whistleblower provisions
- with the Reporting Person’s consent; or
- to any other person or body prescribed by the regulations.
However, information can be disclosed without consent if it does not include their identity and PIMCO Australia has taken all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of identification, and disclosure is reasonably necessary for investigating the issues raised.
PIMCO Australia protects the identity of the Reporting Person through a number of measures, including secure storage and restricted access for documents and materials relating to the Eligible Disclosure, and redacting references to the Reporting Person.
Protection from detriment
Reporting Persons are protected from threats to cause detriment and conduct that causes detriment to them (or another person) in relation to an Eligible Disclosure or a belief or suspicion an Eligible Disclosure has been or may be made.
PIMCO Australia will protect the Reporting Person from detrimental acts or omissions in relation to an Eligible Disclosure by assessing the risk of detriment and making support services available.
Compensation and other remedies
A Reporting Person can seek compensation and other remedies through the courts if they suffer loss, damage or injury because of their Eligible Disclosure and believe PIMCO Australia failed to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to prevent the detrimental conduct. Reporting Persons are encouraged to seek independent legal advice.
A Reporting Person who makes an Eligible Disclosure is protected from civil, criminal and administrative liability in relation to that disclosure. However, this does not grant immunity for any misconduct by the Reporting Person revealed in the Eligible Disclosure.
6. How an Eligible Disclosure is handled?
An Eligible Recipient, or their designee, will assess and confirm receipt of an Eligible Disclosure as soon as practicable, and conduct an initial assessment to confirm it is an Eligible Disclosure and determine what steps must be taken to respond, including any formal investigation, and to manage the risk of detriment to the Reporting Person.
Where a formal investigation is required, the nature, scope and timeframe of the investigation is determined. Investigations will generally be completed within 45 days. However, this may vary depending on the nature of the disclosure.
All investigations must be conducted fairly, objectively and transparently and preserve the confidentiality of the investigation and the Reporting Person. To ensure fairness and independence, investigations are conducted independent of the Reporting Person, the individuals who are the subject of the Eligible Disclosure and the department or business unit involved.
PIMCO Australia may not be able to proceed with the investigation if it is not able to contact the Reporting Person. Where the Reporting Person is contactable, they will be kept informed regularly throughout the investigation.
Investigation findings are documented and reported internally whilst preserving confidentiality and protecting the Reporting Person from detriment. The Reporting Person may be provided details of the outcome of the investigation (including through anonymous channels). However, there may be circumstances where it may not be appropriate to do so.
There are whistleblower provisions in the Tax Administration Act 1953 (Cth) (‘TAA’) broadly consistent with the protections described above. This policy can be applied to a TAA matter. This policy and related policies are available on PIMCO Australia’s intranet site and provided to officers and employees upon joining PIMCO Australia.