AFP and Attorney-General’s Department launch anti-bribery network

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday October 22, 2020

Adobe

Australian organisations from across business, civil society, academia and government have launched a public-private partnership that aims to help businesses tackle bribery and corruption risks and promote a culture of compliance.

Launched in Australia on Wednesday, the Bribery Prevention Network offers free online resources for companies to help them manage bribery and corruption risks in domestic and international markets.

Members of the network include the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Attorney-General’s Department, Transparency International Australia, BHP, Westpac, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank, KPMG Australia, Allens and the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group.

The AFP currently has 17 active investigations into foreign bribery and has pursued more than 130 cases over the past decade. AFP superintendent for crime strategy Greg Hinds said it can often be difficult for businesses to know which anti-bribery and corruption resources are relevant and reliable, and the network aims to address this.

“The Australian government works on a number of fronts to fight bribery and corruption both in Australia and overseas; with both remaining significant threats to the global community, hindering the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, undermining the rule of law and eroding trust between governments and citizens,” he said.

“The Bribery Prevention Network is committed to providing a central repository of trusted resources to mitigate bribery and corruption risks within businesses and their supply chains so that they operate successfully, legally and responsibly.”


Read more: Federal ICAC case strong, despite anti-bribery measures


Australian companies face myriad bribery and corruption laws when entering international markets. These laws can “sit in contrast to local customs, expectations, and competitive pressure to bribe”, the network said.

BHP chief compliance officer Tim Robinson said the network offers important support to Australian businesses to achieve best practice.

“This hub will offer Australian businesses, including those within the resources industry and supply chain, the opportunity to equip themselves with the knowledge and tools they need to protect their growth and play their part in the fight against corruption,” he said.

Global Compact Network Australia executive director Kylie Porter noted that corruption is a significant obstacle to economic and social development globally, and disproportionately affects poor communities. She argued businesses must act responsibly and set a positive example in society.

“The Bribery Prevention Network assists businesses to detect, prevent and address bribery and corruption. In doing so, businesses can reduce the risk of facing high ethical and operational risks and associated costs, whilst protecting their own business, the interests of their stakeholders and society as a whole,” she said.


Read more: NSW’s nudge unit suggests using behavioural insights to boost compliance in the public service


 

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jacob.h.winters@tutamail.com
1 month ago

This is an admirable project on the part of the contributing organisations. It aggregates a considerable amount of information into one location, to provide a central reliable resource.
 
In the future, it would be helpful to see more guidance on better ways to evaluate compliance safeguards, similar to the World Bank’s recent initiative (at 46:46 in video).
 
As Transparency International correctly states on page 6 of their Assurance Framework for Corporate Anti-Bribery Programmes, “Many have joined the growing number of national and global voluntary initiatives aimed at improving the standard of anti-bribery practice. Nevertheless, corporate bribery scandals continue to surface. This……is seriously eroding the credibility of business and fostering growing stakeholder scepticism of the claims made by enterprises regarding their anti-bribery efforts.
 
Developing the safeguards is the easy part, but ensuring that they actually work is where many businesses fail. For some, it’s a tick-the-box exercise.
 
In this regard, providing more examples and case studies of how businesses create safeguards that actually work would be helpful.  For example, the AFP has looked at 130 cases over the past decade. Sharing some information on what they have learned, in an anonymous manner of course, would be of great value.
 
I see that only six case studies are currently highlighted in the Bribery Prevention Network, with many focused on the efforts of the UK Serious Fraud Office. There is no mention of the BHP enforcement case by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which would serve as a great example for Australian businesses.  This case study should provide an analysis of how BHP’s safeguards actually work.
 
Also, when businesses evaluate the risk of foreign bribery, they should have a good understanding of the corruption laws that are applicable in the countries where they operate, or hope to operate. A good resource for this can be found at https://globalcompliancenews.com/anti-corruption/anti-corruption-laws-around-the-world/.

As a final comment, and in the interest of transparency, it would be helpful to see how the public-private partnership behind the Bribery Prevention Network is funded.  So, for each contributing organisation, users of the network should be able to view how much is being contributed to the effort financially. This should also include funding that contributors provide via other organisations, such as Transparency International.

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