On 22 March 2018 the Australian Senate Economics Legislation Committee (Committee) published its report on Australia's proposed whistleblowing legislation, Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Bill 2017 (Cth) (Bill). The Bill aligns the whistleblower regimes in the corporate and financial sectors. It will consolidate and broaden existing protections and remedies for whistleblowers under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), and also amend the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) to create a whistleblower protection regime for disclosures of information by individuals regarding breaches of the tax laws or misconduct relating to an entity’s tax affairs. According to the Committee's report, the proposed legislation is to take effect on 1 July 2018, and certain categories of corporation will be required to have whistleblower policies in place by 1 January 2019. Click here to read the full report.
Australian Senate Committee to release report in April on inquiry into proposed reforms to corporate crime legislation
An Australian Senate Committee is conducting an inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Corporate Crime) Bill 2017 (Bill). Submissions closed on 7 February 2018 and the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee will release its report on 20 April 2018. The Bill proposes several amendments to the Criminal Code Act 1995, including extending the definition of 'foreign public official' to include a candidate for office, broadening the offence of bribery of a foreign public official to cover bribery to obtain a personal advantage, and creating a new offence of failure of a body corporate to prevent foreign bribery by an associate. The Bill would also implement a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) scheme to enable persons engaged in serious corporate crime to negotiate an agreement for compliance with the Australian Commonwealth. For more information on the Bill, see our briefing, 'New Australian Measures to Combat Corporate Crime'.
The temperature's rising on corporate crime in Australia
A series of proposed reforms could significantly change Australia's corporate crime regulatory landscape in 2018. Deferred Prosecution Agreements, broader foreign bribery offences and whistleblowing reforms are all in the pipeline. These changes would place a higher onus on Australian businesses to self-manage corporate crime risk and to put in place robust systems to ensure compliance. To read more about these reforms, see our briefing, 'The Temperature's Rising on Corporate Crime in Australia: Expected Developments in 2018 and Implications for Businesses', which first appeared in Lawyers Weekly on Friday 2 March 2018.