Answer ... The landscape in Australia is likely to see a continued spike in anti-corruption and bribery investigations and prosecutions. While whistleblower protections have been substantially improved, the prevailing attitude of the government still appears to be to hunt down those who blow the whistle on improper or illegal government conduct. This sends a very contradictory message to whistleblowers, who are told they will be protected if they expose corporate misconduct; yet if they disclose public misconduct, they will be pursued, investigated, prosecuted and convicted.
However, companies are increasingly taking proactive measures, often prompted by foreign enforcement developments, to ensure that they have a robust, proactive culture of compliance, as the risks of not doing so are increasingly seen as unsustainable.
Legislative reform that is long overdue and should be introduced by the Australian government without delay includes:
- reforms to help simplify the foreign bribery offences;
- enactment of the strict liability corporate offence of failing to prevent foreign bribery; and
- enactment of the commonwealth DPA scheme.