The following is a guest post from associate Nicole Matraiin Squire Patton Boggs’ Perth, Australia office.
The Australian Attorney General’s Department is looking to change some of the key points to Australia’s laws on bribery of a Commonwealth and foreign public official (found in Division 141 and 70 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)).
According to the Public Consultation Paper from the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, Criminal Justice Division, dated 15 November 2011, the proposed changes include:
(a) deleting the defence of facilitation payments;
(b) clarifying that although bribery is an offence irrespective of the value of the benefit offered or given, a court may consider the value where value alone suggests a benefit is not legitimately due;
(c) making it unnecessary to identify the particular public official; and
(d) removing the requirement that the bribe was provided ‘dishonestly’, as opposed to being committed intentionally.
Companies would be well advised to take note of these suggested changes. If these changes are implemented into Australian law, companies would need to revisit their internal compliance systems to ensure that all relevant stakeholders follow the Australian bribery and corruption laws.
Companies have an opportunity to comment on the proposed changes, with the Australian Government having called for submissions by 15 December 2011.