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Introduction

This policy governs the activities of all companies that are part of the MVGM group, hereafter referred to as MVGM. It is important to MVGM that the company and its employees uphold the highest ethical standards and practices. Part of the company culture is that if any illegal or unethical conduct does occur, it is reported so that it can be properly dealt with. This whistle-blower policy has been established in order to facilitate the proper reporting of such wrongdoing, without the whistle-blower having to fear for a negative impact on his/her employment or career prospects. This whistle-blower policy applies to all MVGM companies, participations and / or subsidiaries.

Code of conduct

Based on the integrity agreements described in the VGM-NL (Vastgoed Management – Nederland) Code of Conduct, to which MVGM adheres, we have a responsibility towards our stakeholders. The Code of Conduct serves as a guide for professional conduct and way of doing business. The Code applies to everyone within our organization and applies to our activities as a whole, as well as the conduct of our individual employees. In all of our business activities, we do our utmost best to be open, decent in our actions show integrity.

Wrongdoing

However, this does not alter the fact that wrongdoing may occur. An (alleged) wrongdoing means: (a suspicion of) a violation of the regulations (such as fraud, embezzlement, corruption) of the MVGM rules of conduct of as laid down in its Code of Conduct, or causing a situation whereby staff or third parties are compromised. The (alleged) violation is harmful to one or more employees, to the company, to third parties or to the public interest. The harmful violation must exceed the whistle-blower’s personal interest.

We believe that employees who suspect wrongdoing must be able to report this simply and safely. Therefore, MVGM provides this whistle-blower policy to allow for a prompt and thorough investigation of the concerns, with feedback to the person who raised them. In addition, MVGM must offer these employees the necessary protection so that they can continue to feel secure.

This whistle-blower policy enables employees to report an (alleged) wrongdoing as early as possible. Additionally, we do not expect employees to prove that what they claim is true. However, they must be able to demonstrate that there are facts and/or circumstances that justify reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. MVGM places the whistle-blower policy on the company intranet (Blue way) as well as the website.

Scope

All employees of MVGM can make use of the whistle-blower policy. This also includes employees with a temporary contract.  Trainees, employees working for MVGM on a temporary basis and those who act on behalf of MVGM can report wrongdoing, but cannot use this scheme. This is because central to the whistle-blower policy is the protection of the whistle-blower. If a whistle-blower is not employed by MVGM, MVGM cannot offer him/her protection.

Corporate culture

A whistle-blower policy not only helps to adequately respond to wrongdoing, but also helps to prevent it. It is an integrated part of MVGM’s corporate culture, resulting in employees who act with integrity, express criticism and address bad behavior. All three of them are encouraged and appreciated.

Procedure

Step 1 – Raising a concern

As a first step, employees should raise any concerns with their line manager, verbally or in writing, referring to their complaint as a whistle-blowing matter. The line manager may be able to agree a way of resolving the concern quickly and effectively. The individual should also advise if they have a direct personal interest in the matter.

Alternatively, if there is reason to believe that the line manager may in some way be involved with the wrongdoing, or if the line manager does not sufficiently address the concern, the individual can raise their concern with the Compliance department, which will act as the whistle-blower contact point.

The whistle-blower can submit the wrongdoing in question in writing and/or verbally, but a written report is preferred. This is because it eliminates discussion regarding what exactly the whistle-blower has reported with the supervisor or contact point, and more information can be obtained afterwards. Further information is always recorded in writing by the recipient.

To keep the threshold as low as possible, verbal reporting is always possible. In the case of a verbal report, the supervisor or whistle-blower contact point will ask the whistle-blower whether they object to having their name referred to in the report.

Verbal reports can be made over the phone, but also in a personal conversation within or outside the company. The whistle-blower’s immediate supervisor or contact point makes a report of the conversation. It will describe the reported wrongdoing and any other relevant circumstances as accurately as possible.

If the line manager is part of an alleged wrongdoing, the whistle-blower reports the abuse directly to the Compliance department.

Step 2 – Investigation

The whistle-blower contact point will always report a suspected wrongdoing to the managing director of the employee about whom there is a suspicion of wrongdoing. The whistle-blower contact point will take the necessary steps to investigate the situation.

Once the report is confirmed, a receipt is issued and the whistle-blower contact point will confirm the report to the whistle-blower. This confirmation states:

  • Exactly what the employee’s report entails;
  • That the whistle-blower report does not result in punitive measures or unfair treatment;
  • That MVGM will protect the whistle-blower as much as possible;
  • To what extent the report can be handled confidentially. If total confidentiality is not possible for whatever reason, the follow-up process is carefully discussed with the whistle-blower before it is acted upon;
  • That the employee receives information about the progress and possible outcome of the investigation after a maximum of eight weeks, and an indication of what steps were taken.

If, in the interest of the investigation, it is beneficial not to make statements regarding action taken and the status of the investigation, any information regarding the latter will not be provided. The whistle-blower will of course be informed.

There are no further requirements regarding the investigation by the whistle-blower contact point. The following principles will apply:

  • The information received by the whistle-blower contact point is confidential. The whistle-blower contact point may only use the information for the purposes of investigation and advising the whistle-blower;
  • The whistle-blower contact point is authorized to request written and verbal information from all business departments for the purpose of the investigation subject to the employee privacy rules. The business departments are required to provide all available and relevant information;
  • The whistle-blower contact point will keep the name of the whistle-blower confidential;
  • The whistle-blower contact point will always apply the principle of a fair hearing, unless this conflicts with the interests of the investigation;
  • The whistle-blower contact point will always disclose findings in writing;
  • All registrations and files are kept in a secure environment;
  • The whistle-blower contact point cannot apply sanctions itself;
  • In the event of a violation of the law, the whistle-blower contact point will always advise management on filing a police report.

Step 3 – Outcome

The whistle-blower contact point will report to the managing director and the relevant department director, and will give advice regarding any action taken as well as the follow-up process.

The director involved in/after consultation with the managing director decides on any further action as well as handling of potential publicity related to the case in question. Within eight weeks after reporting the wrongdoing, the whistle-blower will receive feedback on the progress of the investigation and, where appropriate, the actions taken.

Wrongdoing outside the scope of the whistle-blower policy

  • Personal complaints (for example about the workplace, relationship with colleagues or management). These problems can be discussed with the immediate supervisor, or if the complaint concerns the direct supervisor, their supervisor, or HR, a solution will be sought in consultation;
  • Wrongdoing by tenants (for example, growing weed, domestic violence). These abuses can best be discussed with the immediate supervisor, whereby the most suitable way to solve the identified problem can be sought in consultation.

No retaliation against whistle-blower

The executive board of MVGM guarantees that no whistle-blower acting in accordance with the whistle-blower policy will face retaliation. MVGM will act appropriately to protect the whistle-blower. This also applies if, after an investigation, it transpires that the report has been made in good faith but the accusation(s) cannot be sufficiently proven. MVGM will keep the name of the whistle-blower confidential.