AFP establishes Anti-Corruption Team in Perth

Following the announcement in May 2016 of an additional $15m in funding (over three years) to bolster law enforcement efforts to detect and combat corruption, the Commonwealth Government has announced that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will establish specialist complex fraud and anti-bribery and corruption teams in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. The Government’s more recent announcement focused on the establishment of a new Perth branch of the AFP’s Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre. The Perth team will prioritise foreign bribery investigations, as well as investigating other serious financial crimes.

AFP and CDPP release exposure draft of self-reporting protocol

The AFP and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) have released an exposure draft of their best practice Guideline for self-reporting of foreign bribery by corporates. The draft Guideline confirms that a self-report and broader co-operation with law enforcement are mitigating factors that a Court can take into account at sentencing, however it does not provide any real certainty to corporates as to the range of possible outcomes if they self-report.

Re-establishment of Senate Inquiry into corporate corruption

The Senate has relaunched a lapsed Inquiry into corporate corruption, following recent press alleging foreign bribery involving two Australian companies with activities in Africa and Asia. Both companies are under investigation by the AFP. The Senate Inquiry previously held public hearings, attended by representatives of the AFP among others and was schedule to release a report by 1 July 2016, but the federal election disrupted that work. The Inquiry is now due to report back by 30 June 2017.

NSW Government proposes restructure of ICAC

The NSW Government has recommended that the State’s Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) undergo significant changes to its structure and governance, including to transition from a single Commissioner to a panel. Current and former ICAC commissioners have criticised the proposal, suggesting it will increase costs and create inefficiency. These recommendations came shortly after the delivery of ICAC’s Operation Spicer report, which found that a former Minister engaged in serious corrupt conduct; and the revelation of criminal charges against another former Minister who had been at the centre of another ICAC inquiry.

Western Australia’s Corruption Commission cannot prosecute

The Western Australian Court of Appeal has delivered a ruling that a prosecution brought by the state’s Corruption and Crime Commission was illegal, citing that it was not Parliament’s intention that the Commission would launch its own prosecutions. The ruling has called into question the legality of the bulk of 121 prosecutions launch by the Commission.