Exploring ways to strengthen ethical business practices and reduce corruption and bribery in Australia and wherever Australian businesses operate.
On 3 May 2018, CourtHeath attended the National Dialogue on Anti-bribery and Corruption Event held in Melbourne. Presented by Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA), the event provided an important opportunity for Australian businesses, government / regulators, academics and civil society to explore ways to strengthen ethical business practices and reduce corruption and bribery in Australia and wherever Australian businesses operate.
The event’s three key areas* of discussion were:
- the nature and rationale of the proposed foreign bribery reforms as set out in the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Corporate Crime) Bill 2017 (Cth) (Bill) (including the introduction of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) scheme)
- the impact of self-reporting, cooperation and access to DPAs
- guidance on how to implement and maintain adequate procedures to prevent foreign bribery.
A range of Australian and international industry experts provided a robust and privileged conversation addressing these key points in an effort to:
- identify the challenges and opportunities in enforcement, with particular emphasis on how to support business-regulator engagement and collaboration
- offer Australian businesses greater insight into the practical steps that support ethical business practices, and the risks in not doing so
- build an Australian multi-stakeholder network on ethical business practice and anti-corruption
- identify steps each stakeholder group can take to move the anti-corruption agenda forward in Australia.
Opening the event was the keynote address Perspectives from the US presented by Matthew Axelrod, Partner, Linklaters (former US Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice) via video link-up live from the US. Axelrod offered invaluable insights into US guidance and how lessons learned, particularly in terms of the perceptions and realities of DPAs and self-reporting in the US context, could inform Australia’s proposed legislation that would see amendments to the Criminal Code Act 1995(Cth) (Criminal Code) and the Director of Public Prosecutions Act 1983 (Cth) (DPP Act).
Axelrod’s presentation was followed by The Australian reforms – amendments to foreign bribery laws and DPAs panel discussion with Anna Harmer (First Assistant Secretary, AGD) offering an overview of the reforms the Australian government is considering in an effort to reduce corporate crime that currently costs Australia more than $8 billion per year. DPAs and foreign bribery reforms were highlighted, as was the development of a code of practice that would sit alongside legislation.
Other event participants included Jeldee Robertson (Principal Federal Prosecutor, Commercial, Financial and Corruption Group, CDPP), Mark McIntyre (Superintendent, Coordinator Anti-Corruption, Organised Crime, AFP) and Sir Edward Garnier QC (One Brick Court Chambers, UK) whose pre-recorded video presentation, DPAs in action: perspectives from the UK, offered real-life insight into self-reporting, DPAs and self-disclosure. Garnier, the architect of the deferred prosecution regime in the UK, appeared in two of the four DPAs so far approved by the Court – Standard Bank (2014) and Rolls-Royce(2017). Both cases were discussed in a broader conversation that highlighted the political and legal challenges faced with the introduction of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement in the UK.
Concluding with the workshop, What will make guidance on adequate procedures effective? and a short discussion outlining ‘next steps’, the event was a rare and important opportunity to gain a deeper understanding about the complexities and challenges surrounding corporate bribery and corruption and the role DPAs can play in addressing unethical behaviour in business.
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A participant in the UN Global Compact, CourtHeath seeks to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact with business and government organisations in Victoria.
IMAGE: Melbourne skyline. Used under licence from shutterstock.com
* Allens > < Linklaters (3 May 2018). Australian Dialogue on Bribery and Corruption,briefing pack, p.2, Global Compact Network Australia.
[category courtheath's blog]
bribery, corruption, Deferred Prosecution Agreement