Top Stories

October 31, 2012


Big rise in number of ‘whistle-blowers’ reporting to the FSA

New figures show that the number of tip-offs about potential wrongdoing at banks received by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has nearly quadrupled since the financial downturn began. In a sign of the increased scrutiny of misconduct at financial institutions, the FSA received 3,733 calls from whistle-blowers in the year to May 2012, up 276 percent on the number received in the 12 months before the downturn. Despite the increase, some employment experts are concerned that Britain does not offer enough legal protection for those who come forward. Under recent changes to the employment legislation, employees will be protected from retaliation by their employer only if disclosures are deemed to be in the public interest, which could result in many people choosing to stay silent, lawyers said. (Times*, City Wire)

Corporate Reputation

Google and Starbucks face tax grilling

Google and Starbucks will be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny over their tax affairs for the first time on Monday, following the public accounts committee demand that the two US companies give evidence.  “We want to ask them for an opportunity to explain why they don’t pay proper levels of tax in the UK,” Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, told the Financial Times. The move marks a cranking up of the political pressure on large international conglomerates over the amount of tax they pay in this country, after months of revelations about low tax rates enjoyed by some groups. David Cameron last week told the Commons that large international companies paying low tax rates in the UK would face investigation by HMRC. The Revenue estimates that tax avoidance costs the UK £5bn a year. (Financial Times*)


Renewables and gas firms unite to build low carbon future

A group of well-known energy companies will today launch a new alliance aiming to change the public perception that gas and renewable energy developers operate in opposition, as Europe seeks to advance its low carbon economy. The so-called ‘Energy Partnership’ will be launched today in Brussels by its founding partners Alpine Energie, Dong Energy, First Solar, General Electric, and Shell. The companies aim to promote the use of gas alongside the growth of renewables by creating policies that effectively integrate the two technologies.  They maintain that both gas and renewables could play a critical role in the European Commission's 2050 ‘Energy Roadmap’. (Business Green)

Government and businesses to shelve unsustainable palm oil

The UK Government and a group of leading businesses on Wednesday unveiled a major pledge to phase out the use of unsustainable palm oil by 2015, in a bid to reduce deforestation and tackle climate change. The Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, announced a series of commitments from 15 high profile signatories, including the Government, the Food and Drink Federation, the British Retail Consortium and the Agricultural Industries Commission. According to Eurostat data, the UK imported 397,000 metric tons of palm oil and 53,000 metric tons of palm kernel oil in 2011. Defra has estimated that only 24 percent of this was sourced from sustainably certified plantations. (Business Green)

M&S to eliminate hazardous chemicals from supply chain

The British retailer, Marks & Spencer, has committed to eliminate releases of hazardous chemicals throughout their entire supply chain and products by 2020. As part of its commitment M&S will phase out all Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) by no later than July 1st 2016, acknowledging that the entire chemical group is hazardous. Aside from the ban on PFCs, M&S has also reinforced a ban on Alkylphenol Ethoxylates (APEOs), and has pledged to set timelines to eliminate other priority hazardous chemicals. The company has also promised to become more transparent about what its suppliers release into our water and will start by releasing discharge data from five of their Chinese suppliers. M&S is now the seventh brand to make a credible commitment to clean up its supply chain and products and eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals, joining Puma, Nike, Adidas, H&M, C&A and Li-Ning. (Greenpeace, Edie)

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