The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Foreign Bribery) Bill 2023, a new legal framework, is poised to reinforce the fight against foreign bribery
Foreign bribery is a grave issue that permeates business worldwide, causing harm to communities, distorting market dynamics, and eroding the rule of law. In an effort to combat this insidious practice, the Australian Government has taken significant steps to remove barriers to investigations and prosecutions. The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Foreign Bribery) Bill 2023, a new legal framework, is poised to reinforce the fight against foreign bribery.
Bribery is an ailment that affects businesses, government, and other organisations across the globe. Its ramifications are far-reaching, not only damaging the reputation of individuals and businesses but also harming communities by inflating costs and compromising the quality of goods and services. The Australian government recognises that addressing foreign bribery as part of the national anti-corruption policy is essential to safeguarding Australia’s international standing, preserving the rule of law, and ensuring the prosperity of the global market.
As a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, Australia has an obligation to implement effective measures to hold both individuals and corporations accountable for acts of foreign bribery. The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Foreign Bribery) Bill 2023 has been meticulously developed to address these challenges head-on, creating a robust legislative framework that effectively deters and punishes corrupt practices.
A significant provision within the bill introduces a new offence, making corporations directly liable for foreign bribery committed by their employees
A significant provision within the bill introduces a new offence, making corporations directly liable for foreign bribery committed by their employees, contractors, agents, and subsidiaries. This new measure holds companies accountable, empowering them to take decisive action against bribery. To avoid liability, businesses must demonstrate the existence of adequate procedures to prevent such illicit activities including the development of policies and providing adequate anti-bribery and corruption training of their staff. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in substantial penalties of up to $27.5 million (or higher, based on the benefit derived.).
It is worth noting that the key measures outlined in the Combatting Foreign Bribery Bill are largely similar to those included in bills proposed under the previous government in 2017 and 2019. Despite bipartisan support and their potential to strengthen the legal framework against foreign bribery, these bills were allowed to lapse without being put to a vote. The new bill signifies a renewed commitment from the current government to bolster Australia’s response to foreign bribery and ensure the effectiveness of detection, investigation, and prosecution of such crimes.
The introduction of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Foreign Bribery) Bill 2023 marks a significant step forward in Australia’s continuing battle against foreign bribery. By removing barriers to investigations and prosecutions, the Government aims to strengthen the legal framework, hold corporations accountable, and safeguard Australia’s international reputation. Through this bill, Australia underscores its commitment to combatting corruption and shows it recognises the need for effective laws that can root out and penalise foreign briber
GRC Solutions Resources
Our Anti-Bribery and Corruption online training course includes a module that helps staff deal with officials in other countries
- Module 1: Introduction
- Module 2: Soliciting and receiving bribes
- Module 3: Working with overseas countries
- Module 4: Advanced bribery and corruption
More information here