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“It really can be a career-ending move. You have to be prepared to leave your employer and to fight for a package because you may never work in the industry again,” says Meriel.
Faced with this bleak outlook, many people choose to leave their jobs without blowing the whistle. Yet others feel a moral imperative to speak up.
That was the case for Pav Gill, the Singapore-based in-house lawyer who discovered serious financial improprieties at Wirecard. To remain quiet would have meant compromising his professional ethics. However his principles cost him dearly. After Wirecard tried to supress Pav’s attempts to whistleblow and initiate investigations into the red flags, he was forced out of Wirecard. Thereafter, he lived in fear for his personal safety, being at the receiving end of retaliation from the company in the form of intimidation, threats, and being tailed. “It took tremendous courage for Pav to do what he did, at the cost of drawing Wirecard’s wrath” observes Amarjit Kaur, the partner who advised Pav.
Whatever legal protections are available, though, there is likely to be reputational damage on both sides, as Pav Gill reflected in an interview with the Financial Times. “I don’t like the term whistleblower, honestly,” he said.
Remaining silent, of course, also comes with risks. Several of Mr Gill’s former Wirecard colleagues are now in custody on fraud charges. Had he made a less principled decision, he could have found himself among them.