"I make Malala's words my own: 'I tell my story not because it is unique but because it is not" and I hope my story can be served as an example, motivation and inspiration to other whistleblowers who are being silenced and their careers and reputations buried around the world by companies that don’t respect their codes of ethics, by employees and executives who steal corporate coffers and the board that pretends nothing happens"
Monday, February 01, 2016
Eni's Whistleblower: 14 years in 14 paragraphs...
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 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, I 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 "groundless" Eni's lawsuit. The company didn't accept my proposal agreement, but preferred appeal 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.
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!