RSM Australia

How to combat the growing threat of foreign bribery and corruption

What is best practice and where do Australian companies currently rate?

Whether it’s the FIFA cash-for-votes fiasco, Unaoil the Monaco-based company at the centre of a global oil scandal or the infamous Panama Papers which implicated scores of politicians and business figures in a labyrinth of murky corporate dealings, the problem of corporate bribery and corruption is clearly far more endemic than most people realise.

Closer to home, there’s no shortage of high profile examples, including the Australian Wheat Board’s oil-for-wheat scandal and more recently the Australian banknote company, Securency whose manager was sentenced by a UK court to 30 months jail for bribing an official at the Nigerian Mint.

With Australia continuing to slide down Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index - now ranking outside the top ten - there’s mounting international pressure for Australia’s bribery and corruption legislation to mirror global best practice.

Last year the Senate referred an inquiry into foreign bribery to the Senate Economics References Committee which was due to publish a report by 1 July 2016. This report was expected to address the effectiveness of existing Commonwealth legislation, which has been criticised by the OECD as being underutilised and ineffective at addressing corrupt conduct.

Potential improvements are expected to align Australia with global legislation, especially the UK Bribery Act 2010 which places greater emphasis on businesses to establish preventative measures and tighten up procedures

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