Allens hosts launch of anti-bribery discussion paper
16 November 2011
Allens Arthur Robinson (Allens) has hosted the launch by the Federal Government of a discussion paper that proposes the removal of the facilitation payments defence from Australia's anti-bribery laws.
Minister for Justice Brendan O'Connor launched the paper yesterday during a meeting of the United Nations Global Compact's Anti-Corruption Leadership Group for Business, hosted in the Melbourne office of Allens.
Under Australian law, individuals can be jailed for 10 years and fined $1.1 million for offering or bribing foreign public officials in order to obtain business or an undue business advantage, while companies may be liable for a fine of up to $11 million, or three times the value of benefits obtained, or 10 per cent of annual turnover.
Individuals and companies can claim a defence if the money paid constituted a facilitation payment, as long as the value of the benefit was of a minor nature, the purpose was to secure a routine government action of a minor nature, and the conduct was recorded.
Allens Senior Associate Rachel Nicolson, who chaired today's meeting, said moves to remove the facilitation payments defence would align Australian anti-bribery laws with those introduced by the UK recently. This would increase consistency in what is expected by these different regulatory regimes, both of which may apply to Australian business depending on where they have operations, because of their extraterritorial reach.
'Removing the facilitation payment defence would provide additional certainty for companies on this issue. When working to comply with these laws, it is often difficult to distinguish in policy and practice between what is a bribe and what is a facilitation payment. Removing this defence clarifies this issue,' Ms Nicolson said.
'Companies should now start looking at their policies and rules surrounding facilitation payments and look to get ahead of the curve by amending them.
'Companies should also be considering what this means to their people on the ground in foreign countries and what those people need to be doing if confronted with a demand for a facilitation payment.'
- Jason SilveriiSenior Corporate Affairs Manager,
Ph: +61 3 9613 8014
- Rachel NicolsonSenior Associate,
Ph: +61 3 9613 8300
Notes for editors.
Allens Arthur Robinson has staff in 14 cities and eight countries across the Asia Pacific.