What your company needs to know about the international
smorgasbord of anti-corruption law
Anti-corruption watchdogs around the globe are cracking
down on corporations implicated in foreign bribery
Just recently, Leighton Holdings fessed up to the AFP about
possible breaches of Commonwealth anti-bribery laws with respect to
operations in Singapore, Iraq and Indonesia. Last month, the
UK's Serious Fraud Office successfully convicted four company
directors on multiple counts of commercial bribery for which they
received lengthy jail terms and in December last year a former
Government Minister of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was
sentenced to death for the offence of receiving bribes.
There is a palpable global effort on the part of enforcement
agencies to seriously investigate corporations and officials for
acts of corruption. The long-arm jurisdiction trend is spreading
and the laws are toughening. While this need not dissuade
Australian companies from expanding their businesses into
"high risk" markets where corruption is rampant or even
accepted custom, it does require all companies to thoroughly review
the policies and codes currently in place for dealing with risks of
While a facilitation payment is commonly accepted in some
jurisdictions, it is an indictable offence in others. What is
considered hospitality or a gift could be construed as commercial
bribery. You don't even need to have been present or even have
knowledge about the bribe occurring let alone turn a blind eye to
it in order to be caught by some of the new laws, and it's not
only Australian companies with a UK presence that we're talking
about. Additional laws introduced in the PRC now affect non-PRC
companies who are in PRC-organised joint ventures or non-PRC
companies who have representative offices in China.
So if you're one of the many Australian companies that do
business overseas, we think you should check who counts as an
"associated person" to your company. You should also
consider taking out insurance to cover those costly investigations
in the event of an audit. And since in the UK failing to prevent
bribery is a strict liability offence, you should ask whether your
current procedures are good enough.
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quite proud of it really.
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ASIC chairman confirmed that ASIC will continue its tough stance against suspected insider trading.
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