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Finally: German Whistleblower Guidelines Released

Melissa Klein Aguilar | May 1, 2007

Nearly two years after a German court ruled that Wal-Mart’s proposed whistleblower process violated German law, creating headaches for U.S. multinationals trying to implement whistleblower systems to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley, Germany has finally published its own set of guidelines for companies to impose such systems without violating local laws.

Since the Wal-Mart case and two similar ones in France, U.S. companies have struggled with how to establish anonymous hotlines overseas that do comply with SOX but do not violate European privacy or labor laws.

After the cases in Germany and France drew international attention to the conflict between SOX and local laws, French regulators in 2005 issued guidelines for implementing whistleblower hotlines in that country. Shortly thereafter, the European Union’s Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, comprised of data protection...

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