find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Not so Wyld about Australia's anti-bribery enforcement

Not so Wyld about Australia's anti-bribery enforcement

Australia requires a properly coordinated and focused body to investigate allegations of foreign corporate bribery, according to an expert in corruption law.

Australia requires a properly coordinated and focused body to investigate allegations of foreign corporate bribery, according to an expert in corruption law. 

Johnson Winter & Slattery partner Robert Wyld (pictured) has called for immediate government action to tackle the problem of foreign bribery, backing an OECD report that slammed Australia’s enforcement of foreign bribery laws and highlighted extensive failures in the handling of cases. 

The OECD said it was “seriously concerned” with Australia’s lack of enforcement of its foreign bribery laws, highlighting that Australian businesses, including law firms, were highly exposed to foreign corruption.

Wyld told Lawyers Weekly that Australia is “very reactive” in implementing foreign bribery laws.

“Australia has not shown a huge amount of leadership or initiative on this issue,” said Wyld.

“It has a range of laws in place, and is happy to be a signatory to conventions and laws passed around the Asia-Pacific region, but when it comes down to doing something pro-active its record is particularly poor.”

Since 2006, only one foreign bribery case in Australia has led to a prosecution.

That case began in July 2011 and concerns the massive banknote-printing bribery scandal involving Securency and Note Printing Australia.

Despite a lack of prosecutions, there has been no shortage of allegations, according to OECD.

Since 2006, the AFP has received 28 allegations of foreign bribery involving Australian companies and individuals. Of these cases, 12 have been evaluated, rejected for investigation and terminated, while nine cases were accepted for investigation but have been finalised without resulting in charges because of insufficient evidence.

There are currently seven ongoing cases.

The report pointed to prosecutors and the AFP being under-resourced, and investigators lacking experience in targeting corporate crime as the reason for this lack of enforcement.

“Simply, there has been a lack of coordination and resourcing,” said Wyld.

“We need one proper agency to take ownership of this problem and run prosecutions … run the hard cases and be prepared to lose them,” he added.

Risky business

The OECD said that a recent study found that 75 per cent of the top 100 companies, and 63 per cent of the top 200 companies, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange operate in a high-risk sector, a high-risk country, or both.

Of particular note to Australian law firms is that Australia‘s large mining and resource sector companies were particularly exposed.

The report also again highlighted the urgent need for whistleblower protection here, stating: “The Securency/NPA case was initially rejected without investigation when a whistleblower first approached the AFP in 2008. An investigation began only after the company self-reported wrongdoing to the AFP the following year.”

Wyld described Australia’s delay in offering whistleblower protection as “very poor”.

“If you look at what the US has done in contrast, it is quite substantial,” he said.

“We need to protect whistleblowers and give them a strategy to go and report straight to the regulator. This has been on the table for a number of years, but the Government continues to drag its heels about it.”

Last month, during his speech at the third annual Tonkin’s General Counsel Summit, Jeremy Levy, legal director for Baxter Healthcare in Australia and New Zealand, also called on the Government to expedite Australia’s long-awaited whistleblower protection initiative.

He stated that encouraging and protecting whistleblowers must be a vital ingredient in good corporate compliance.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Not so Wyld about Australia's anti-bribery enforcement
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Jetski
Oct 23 2017
How to fail well
The legal profession is due for an attitude adjustment when it comes to perceived failures, accordin...
Consultation
Oct 23 2017
Lawyers slam rushed consultation for SA repeat offenders bill
The Law Society of South Australia has expressed concern for a proposal to roll out new laws amendin...
IBA
Oct 23 2017
The pursuit of happiness in the law
A panel of legal experts have explored how to define success in the legal profession, and how lawyer...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...