Successful prosecution and enforcement more likely of foreign bribery by Australian companies
What steps should Australian companies be taking to ensure compliance?
On 6 December 2017, the Australian Government announced significant reforms to Australia’s foreign bribery laws with the introduction of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combating Corporate Crime) Bill 2017 (the Bill). Not only will companies be required to take steps actively to protect against foreign bribery, companies will also be held responsible for bribery committed by their “associates”, which includes their officers, employees, contractors, agents and subsidiaries.
The changes were considered necessary because, to date, there have been significant barriers to investigations and prosecutions. Foreign bribery has been very difficult to identify and to target with effective enforcement. Conduct often occurs offshore and evidence can be difficult to obtain. Further, bribery can be concealed, for example, as agent expenses or other expenses which appear legitimate. The proposed changes will lower the threshold significantly for prosecutions.
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