Consultation Paper on proposed Deferred Prosecution Agreement Scheme  

The Australian Government has published a consultation paper entitled "Improving enforcement options for serious corporate crime: a proposed model for a Deferred Prosecution Agreement scheme in Australia". The proposed scheme would apply to a publicly available list of Commonwealth ‘serious corporate crime offences’, such as foreign bribery, money laundering and fraud, and be available to companies. It is proposed that any agreements negotiated with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions would require approval by a retired judge. A summary of the consultation paper is available here.

Consultation Paper on proposed amendments to foriegn bribery offences  

The Australian Government has published a draft of proposed amendments to the foreign bribery offences and a consultation paper entitled: "Combatting bribery of foreign public officials". The amendments to the offence include creating a corporate offence of failing to prevent foreign bribery and a foreign bribery offence based on recklessness. A summary of the consultation paper is available here.

Australian Senate Committee report on white-collar crime penalties  

The Australian Senate Economics References Committee has released a report on ‘Penalties for white-collar crime and corporate and financial misconduct in Australia’. The report makes six recommendations, most significantly the Senate has recommended that the maximum penalties for relevant 'white-collar' offences should be increased to reflect those in other countries. Other recommendations also include reforming evidentiary standards for civil penalty proceedings involving white-collar crime to create greater certainty. A summary of the report is available here.

Government Bill to fight fraud and corruption  

The Australian Government has introduced the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Powers, Offences and Other Measures) Bill 2017, which proposes amendments to increase the Government’s ability to fight fraud and corruption. The amendments in the Bill include clarifying the functions of the AFP, enabling greater cooperation with international organisations and NGOs, and authorising the gathering and sharing of personal information to assist the AFP to detect and investigate corrupt or fraudulent behaviour by entities dealing with the Australian Government. The Bill is yet to be passed in the House of Representatives or introduced to the Senate.

New laws on corrupt payments to unions   

The Australian Government has introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Corrupting Benefits) Bill 2017, which proposes to make it a criminal offence for companies who make or receive, solicit or offer payments or benefits intended to corrupt a union official. Under the new laws, companies could face penalties of up to £2.5 million and individuals could be fined up to £1 million or face imprisonment for up to ten years. The Bill has been read in the House of Representatives and was referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee, which is due to report back on the Bill by 9 May 2017.  

Hong Kong national laundered money through Australian banks  

A member of a Hong Kong crime syndicate has been sentenced to ten year's imprisonment having been found to have personally laundered an estimated £3.5 million through Australian banks. Members of the syndicate used bank accounts belonging to newly established Australian based companies which had directors who were Hong Kong nationals based overseas.

Former chairman fined for breach of director's duties for improper payments to Iraq  

The former Australian Wheat Board (AWB) chairman has been fined an estimated £30,000 and banned from managing a corporation for five years following the heavily reported 'Iraq kickback scandal'. The recent penalty orders follow the Victorian Supreme Court’s findings in December 2016 that the Chairman breached his duty as a director by failing to make proper inquiries after being informed that the UN was investigating improper payments to Iraq from AWB.