Bribery and Corruption: Regulation is catching up
Enforcement of anti-corruption legislation
There is a growing momentum in Australia’s battle against bribery and corruption and regulation is catching up to this arguably pervasive issue.
For the first time, in June last year, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) charged six former executives and two corporate entities with foreign bribery offences under the Australian Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
It was announced in the media in February 2012 that a top 100 Australian company is being investigated by the AFP for alleged foreign Bribery and Corruption offences. This followed closely on the heels of the recent case of an Australian executive being extradited to the UK for alleged corruption offences relating to contracts for the supply of goods and services to a Bahraini company.
These are serious allegations and the likely charges can flow to individuals as well as the company concerned. There is also the serious flow-on of reputational damage to the management team and the individual Board members. It is vital that Boards and Management demonstrate to stakeholders and regulators that misconduct such as bribery and corruption is not tolerated at any level.
Community to Help Combat Corruption - Media Release by AGD
Further evidence that Australian authorities are strengthening the regulatory regime is the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department’s (AGD) announcement on 19 March 2012 of the release of a public consultation paper regarding the development of an Australian National Anti-Corruption Plan. This announcement follows on from the AGD’s public consultation regarding Australia’s bribery and corruption law in November 2011, and the Corporations Act protection for whistleblowers in 2010.
The purpose of the National Anti-Corruption Plan is to address emerging corruption risks and the appropriate mitigation strategies to these risks, both in terms of foreign and domestic offences. The media release states:
“In the discussion paper released by the Attorney-General today, the community is asked to comment on how Australia’s anti-corruption systems can be improved, what are the most important threats and how is Australia vulnerable to those threats, are Australia’s risk mitigation strategies adequate and how they can be improved and are there ways the Government can better educate stakeholders and the public.
The National Plan will include results of a risk analysis of current and emerging corruption risks and a framework to ensure the plan is able to effectively address these risks into the future.”
This together with the UK’s enactment of the most stringent and far reaching anti-bribery legislation last year (UK Bribery Act 2010), the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which has been actively enforced for many years, significant and growing interest by donor agencies in Australian projects offshore, the levels of corruption in many locations in which Australian organisations are operating, and the very real exposure for Board Directors, means that Australian organisations need to act now.
For additional information on this topic please see the following links:
- AGD Discussion Paper
- Bribery and Corruption: Recent developments within Australia
- UK Bribery Act
- Revamped Bribery Act retains its teeth
Frank O'Toole | Partner Forensic
Helen Anthony | Manager Forensic