Request the Board of Eni the compliance of the Code of Ethics
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Every year the “whistleblower” gains more importance in the context of corporate reputation and business continuity. The expression no longer brings something pejorative and the complaint is no longer labeled as a “stool pigeon”. Now the whistleblower has a more noble, laudable and exemplary function: to preserve the name, image, reputation and patrimony of the companies! On the other hand, all of the Stakeholders should pay more attention on the retaliations against those who were motivated by the companies, encouraged and protected by the Code of Ethics to present some kind of concern or even complaint.
Paradoxically, it must not be allowed to the companies to kill their own whistleblower! It is not today that the companies kill the whistleblowers. The most famous cases – which including have been a cover of the renowned US magazine "Time" in the special issue "Persons of the Year" - are the WorldCom (Ms. Cynthia Cooper), FBI (Ms. Coleen Rowley) and Enron (Ms. Sherron Watkins).
Undoubtedly, many people in the four corners of the planet, when they face misconduct and disconformities according to the Code of Ethics of their companies, they keep silent for fear of suffering some type of retaliation. Many others are victims of their own denunciations, however for fear of jeopardizing their professional careers they don’t take the case any further. Instead, they get a new job and continue with their lives.
My story with the Italian giant and one of the largest companies of the planet began back in 2001 when I was an executive of Eni's Brazilian subsidiary and temporarily took over the main sales management of Agip Brazil. There, I received complaints of irregularities involving conflicts of interests, internal corruption, fraud, and even emission of "cold invoices". Respecting the determinations of Eni's Code of Ethics, I reported the misconducts and nonconformities with the words and spirit of the code, that as the company declares, is the guideline for all the six-legged dog's actions.
On the following weeks, little happened and I ended up getting fired. After invoking Agip Brazil's Committee of Ethics, I got an answer from the Brazilian operation saying that my resignation happened due to an "administrative and organizational restructuring" and not because of a "retaliation", as I stated.
It was evident that the millionaire scheme that I had reported had metastasized throughout the company, and in Agip Brazil's backstage, the top management, in collusion, ran the illegalities and illegal activities practiced in Eni's Brazilian subsidiary.
So I decided to write to the Board of Eni and to the company's main shareholders, including to the main one, the Italian Government. The PwC, which at that time was the auditing firm hired by Eni, also received a copy of the new corresponding item. It's the Board of Directors the highest authority inside and outside the company walls, the embodiment of the "Corporate Governance" and the "Big Boss" of all the executives, including the CEO. Besides, the Board is responsible for ensuring the Code of Ethics. Above all, it is the "Guardian of Ethics"!
The resignations at Agip Brazil continued until it reached the commercial management. A few months later, Eni announced to the market the sale of all the Brazilian assets to the state oil company Petrobras, currently involved in the largest corruption scandal in Brazil.
However, no contact was ever made with me, and Eni never answered any of my mails! On the contrary, after killing the "whistleblower" in Brazil, the company tried to do the same thing in Italy!
In 2010, Eni decided to file a civil action in the Court of Rome against me and the Brazilian Business Ethics Institute - an institution I founded in 2003 to promote Ethics in the business and student world - demanding an indemnity of 30 million Euros for damage caused by my libel or slander.
In this action, oddly enough, Eni states that all the facts alleged by me are untrue and that, in fact, the company made an undercover investigation in Brazil to ascertain any damage. And I, for not collaborating, ceased the trusting relationship, resulting in my resignation.
Instead of Eni accepting its mistakes, ascertain its faults, enhance controls and honor its own Code of Ethics, the company chose to hide behind a "frivolous lawsuit" in an attempt to intimidate and silence me, and leave under the carpet the ills of its managements.
Fortunately, in late 2014, the judge ruled Eni's lawsuit as "groundless". The company didn't accept my proposal agreement, but preferred to appeal to the sentence.
I became a victim of my own report! Eni destroyed my professional career when it put me on the "black list" of all the companies operating in my country. And there's more! Eni is also responsible for the loss of my retirement.
Now my 15 years story against the Italian giant Eni was published in an investigative book written by two Italian journalists (Andrea Greco and Giuseppe Oddo). This book is called The Parallel State: The first investigation on the Eni.
Despite everything, I will continue, until my last breath, with my personal quest to rescue and restore my name, my honor, my image and my reputation unfairly depreciated by the six-legged dog.
If I regret anything? Not at all! I would do it all over again. Why? The answer is simple: Ethics is always worth it!
My fight against a giant continues!
Please. Sign my petition!
Note: I hope that my case be an example (and motivation) to the whistleblowers that are being killed (and buried) around the world by companies that don't respect their Codes of Ethics, by employees and executives who steal corporate coffers and by the Board that pretends nothing happens.
Douglas Linares Flinto - Chairman & CEO at Brazilian Business Ethics Institute
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