COL is committed to the promotion of a culture of integrity and transparency throughout the organisation and through its work.
This Policy sets out the commitments made by COL and the specific responsibilities of COL staff, non-staff personnel, contractors, consultants and partner organisations and institutions, with regards to the risks of fraud, bribery and corruption.
COL is committed to preventing, identifying and addressing all acts of fraud and corruption, both within the organisation and against COL, through raising awareness of fraud risks, having internal controls aimed at preventing and detecting fraud and corruption, and enforcement of this Policy.
COL has zero tolerance towards any fraud or corruption by COL staff, non-staff personnel, contractors, consultants, and partner organisations and institutions engaged in its work.
COL commits to protect individuals who report the occurrence of fraud and corruption from retaliation as provided within its Whistle Blower Policy.
Fraud and corruption commonly refer to a wide variety of dishonest practices including bribery.
Fraud is a knowing misrepresentation of the truth or a concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment.
Corruption is the act of doing something with an intent to give an advantage inappropriate with official duties to obtain a benefit, to harm or to influence improperly the actions of another party. Actions taken to instigate, abet, aid, attempt, conspire or cooperate in a fraudulent or corrupt act also constitute fraud and corruption.
Examples of fraud or corruption include but are not limited to:
- Forging or falsifying documents, signatures or identities;
- Preparing false entries and making false statements and claims, to obtain a financial or other benefit for oneself or another/others;
- Collusion or other anti-competitive scheme between suppliers during a procurement process;
- Accepting anything of material value from a vendor;
- Failing to disclose a familiar interest in a business or outside party while participating in the award/management of a contract to the benefit of that party;
- Processing the cost of personal travel as part of an official travel;
- Making misrepresentations, including educational and professional qualifications, on a job application form;
- Acts of a deceptive nature.
Scope of the Policy
This Policy applies to the operating activities of COL, and to all activities funded by COL, including through partners.
This Policy applies to i) COL and CEMCA staff, ii) non-staff personnel, comprising individuals working with COL through an established arrangement such as interns, volunteers, mentors, Chairs, or other similar assignments, iii) individual consultants and contractors with a contractual arrangement; and iv) partner organisations and institutions that deliver activities and services on behalf of COL.
- Ensure that all staff, non-staff personnel, consultants, contractors, and partner organisations and institutions have access to, are familiar with, and know their responsibilities within this Policy, and are aware of COL’s policy on zero tolerance for fraudulent and corrupt practices.
- Ensure that senior management sets the tone for staff, non-staff personnel, contractors, consultants and partners through their actions and behaviors.
- Exercise due diligence in procurement processes through various means such as reference checks, review of professional experience and qualifications, disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest, and other relevant measures.
- Provide its staff with the appropriate level of training and/or learning opportunities to help recognise, identify and respond to signs of fraud and corruption.
- Build awareness raising with its non-staff personnel, contractors, consultants, and partner organisations and institutions so they understand their responsibilities according to this Policy.
- Consider risks of fraud and corruption in all high risk and large value project design and delivery processes.
- Ensure this Policy is referenced in agreements with staff, non-staff personnel, contractors, consultants, and partners.
- Pursue actions against those who commit fraud and corruption, and seek recovery of any financial loss suffered by COL.
- Follow up on reports of fraud, bribery and corruption promptly and according to due process.
COL’s management team will:
- Set the tone and lead in the promotion of risk management, internal controls and an anti-fraud culture throughout COL.
- Ensure that physical and IT services promote computer and data security.
COL’s Audit Committee will:
- Conduct annual internal audits and will immediately report any findings of fraud in accordance with this Policy.
- Monitor the implementation of actions designed to reduce fraud risk.
COL’s staff, non-staff personnel, contractors and consultants will be expected to:
- Conduct themselves in accordance with the responsibilities set out in this Policy.
- Report any concerns or suspicions to COL regarding any suspected or alleged violations of this Policy, in accordance with the reporting procedures set out below.
COL’s partner organisations and institutions will be expected to:
- Ensure that their staff adhere to this Policy when delivering activities and services on behalf of COL or provide to COL a copy of their own anti-fraud policy of a similar standard, by prior agreement.
- Keep COL informed of any decisions or actions taken with respect to the enforcement of this Policy.
COL will maintain robust risk assessment and prevention mechanisms in order to mitigate fraud.
Individuals should immediately report incidents of actual or suspected fraud, bribery and/or corruption relating to this Policy to:
COL’s Director: Finance, Administration & Human Resources (the “HR Director”) at:
- a) a secure email address for raising all concerns ReportingConcerns@col.org or
- b) by calling the confidential line of the HR Director at +1 604 775-8254 or
- c) by writing to: COL Director: Finance, Administration & Human Resources at Suite 2500, 4710 Kingsway, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5H 4M2, with the correspondence marked as ‘Confidential’. OR
Where it would not be appropriate to report a concern directly to COL, for example where the individual believes s/he may be, or s/he is being, subjected to retaliation by COL, the individual may contact SeeHearSpeakUp, an agency appointed by COL to provide an external and independent confidential reporting service available 24 hours every day. The contact methods are provided below:
a) a secure email address at Report@seehearspeakup.co.ukor
b) by calling one of these numbers:
- Canada – 1 866 606 5211
- Asia Region – 015 487 70593
- Africa Region – 0027 21 672 2322
- Pacific Region – 400 120 2442
- Caribbean Region – 00 44 121 629 0703
c) Web reporting can be accessed from here: https://www.seehearspeakup.co.uk/en/file-a-concern
Concerns raised with SeeHearSpeakUp will be passed to the HR Director (or President & CEO if the concern involves the HR Director) within COL to consider potential investigation. Personal details of the person reporting a concern, such as name and contact information will not be shared unless consent is given to SeeHearSpeakUp to share these details with the designated senior officers at COL.
If there is a concern that COL has failed to initiate or implement a proper investigation, the individual may report their concern in writing to the ‘Confidential Attention’ of the Chair of the Audit Committee (the “Chair”) at:
Chair of the Audit Committee, Board of Governors
c/o Suite 2500, 4710 Kingsway, Burnaby,
British Columbia, Canada V5H 4M2.
Reports of complaints will require as much detail as possible to enable a thorough investigation including relevant evidence and documents. Requests for confidentiality will be respected to the extent possible. Retaliation against individual who report concerns will not be tolerated by COL.
The HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair, if applicable) will assess whether the complaint discloses a matter that is covered under this Policy. If it does, then the HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair) will review the information provided and either escalate the matter to an internal investigator (or committee) to investigate the complaint or designate an appropriate external investigator to conduct the investigation in accordance with this Policy as follows:
- The investigator(s) will determine process and timeline but will endeavor to complete the investigation as quickly as practicable within a six-week timeline from the date the incident was reported.
- Once the investigation is concluded, based on the findings, the HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair) will provide any investigation report to the parties for further action, if necessary, as determined at the discretion of COL.
- Once an investigation has been completed, and subject to privacy and other legal obligations, the HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair) will notify the reporting individual with the results of the investigation if contact details are available.
- If a complaint indicates that illegal activity has occurred, the HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair) may bring the complaint directly to the police or other law enforcement or regulatory agency, as appropriate.
- The above procedure and any investigation carried out is intended to be flexible in order to respond to the specific circumstances at issue. The intent is that a complaint of a fraud or corruption concern will be managed by a person or committee of people within COL who are not personally involved or otherwise in a conflict of interest with respect to the matter, recognising that COL is a small organisation with limited human and financial resources. COL reserves the right to engage in a different procedure as deemed appropriate in any given circumstance.
Actions stemming from investigations
Any fraud and corruption committed by any member of staff, non-staff personnel, individual consultant or contractor, or partner organisation and institution constitutes misconduct for which a disciplinary measure may be imposed, in accordance with COL policies and contractual terms, up to and including:
- For staff, disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment
- For non-staff personnel, non-renewal or termination of contract or other actions
- For consultants, contractors and partner organisations and institutions, termination of the contract and exclusion from future dealings with COL
- Referral to the national authorities of a Member State for investigation, where appropriate
- Recovery of financial loss and/or assets suffered by COL and to return funds recovered to the respective funding sources.
Confidentiality & Anonymity
Given the technical and logistical requirements of investigating a complaint, anonymous complaints may be difficult to resolve when additional information is required. Whistle blowers will be encouraged to co-operate with an investigation and to provide their identity and contact information when making a Complaint in order to allow for a proper investigation, if necessary.
No individual who in good faith reports a complaint under this Policy or participates in an investigation shall suffer harassment, retaliation or adverse consequences.
Anyone who is found to have retaliated against a person for making a report under this Policy or for participating in an investigation under this Policy in good faith will be subject to corrective action as necessary, including discipline up to and including termination of employment in the case of a COL staff member, and termination of the engagement or contractual arrangements or other appropriate action in the case of non-staff personnel, contractors, consultants, or partner organisations and institutions.
This Policy will be reviewed annually. All updates to the Policy will be circulated to staff and made available on the COL website.
Revised: November 2021