Dr. Edgar Joussen, Lawyer
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has entrusted lawyer Dr Edgar Joussen with the responsibility of being its external ombudsman with effect from 1 July 2017.
The main duty of the ombudsman is to receive in confidence information regarding economic crimes such as corruption, fraudulent breach of trust and fraud but also other crimes and/or rule violations in the corporate environment.
The effects of such crimes include not only the economic damage they often cause but also, more significantly, substantial damage to a company's reputation. These actions are often discovered merely by chance and almost always after the company or a third party has suffered a financial disadvantage.
However, in some cases a company's own employees or persons in business relationships with the company are aware of indications of potentially criminal behaviour, but do not report their suspicions to the company representatives designated to receive such information, often for fear of reprisals or even bullying. For this reason, GIZ GmbH decided some years ago to appoint not only internal integrity officers but also an external ombudsperson for employees and externals as an additional trustworthy contact person outside of the company who is sworn to a lawyer's professional secrecy, i.e. under a confidentiality obligation.
The ombudsman applies his many years of professional experience to independently research the information he receives as to its relevance for the company. If he concludes that the suspicion requires further investigation, he forwards the matter to the responsible person in GIZ, but only if the informant has explicitly provided his or her consent. As a rule, the ombudsman does not divulge the informant’s identity. Because the identity of the informant is only divulged with his/her express permission, there is no reason to contact the ombudsman anonymously. While the ombudsman also accepts anonymous information, anonymous complaints are investigated more cautiously as a rule – not least to protect the subject from defamation.
The success of GIZ GmbH depends not only on the price and quality of its services, but also on its good reputation and its integrity. Corruption damages GIZ GmbH's reputation and that of its employees. This is why the company is combating it resolutely.