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Australia has stepped up its enforcement of foreign bribery since 2012, when the OECD Working Group on Bribery last evaluated Australia’s implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, with seven convictions in two cases and 19 ongoing investigations. However, in view of the level of exports and outward investment by

Australian companies in jurisdictions and sectors at high risk for corruption, Australia must continue to increase its level of enforcement.

The Working Group has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation on Australia’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. In addition to highlighting recent reforms to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) to increase foreign bribery enforcement, the report identifies several other achievements and good practices, including strengthened whistle-blower protections in the public sector, amendments to the foreign bribery offence to address previously identified weaknesses, and the creation of new false accounting offences in the Criminal Code. In 2017, Australia also established the Fintel Alliance - a public-private partnership to enhance the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing, and organised crime. Australian agencies make extensive use of AFP liaison officers around the globe to support foreign bribery investigations.

The report further makes a number of recommendations to Australia aimed at strengthening its foreign bribery enforcement. Key recommendations highlight the need for Australia to: Address the risk that the Australian real-estate sector could be used to launder the proceeds of foreign bribery; Ensure that Australian authorities have adequate resources to effectively enforce the foreign bribery offence; Proactively pursue criminal charges against companies for foreign bribery; and Enhance its whistleblower protections in the private sector;

The Working Group, which is composed of 44 member countries, adopted the report on 14 December 2017, including recommendations made to Australia on pages 52 to 54. In accordance with standard procedures, Australia is invited to submit a written report in two years to the Working Group on the steps taken to implement these recommendations.

The report, available online here, is part of the Working Group’s fourth phase of monitoring, which was launched in 2016. Phase 4 examines particular challenges countries are facing in the enforcement of foreign bribery, as well as positive achievements. It explores issues such as detection, enforcement, corporate liability, international cooperation, as well as unresolved issues from prior evaluations.

 

 

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