Australia needs more anti-corruption resources

Anti-corruption experts in the US and Europe say Australian federal police and corporate watchdog ASIC may be spread too thinly to combat anti-bribery cases and more resources are needed, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Senior OECD anti-corruption official William Loo said Australia’s federal police may not be adequately resourced to handle so many investigations. “How on earth will they [the AFP] do all these cases they have opened? Whether they [AFP agents] have the resources is a big question mark.” said Loo, quoted by the newspaper.

Similarly, the head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s corporate bribery unit, Kara Brockmeyer, also questioned how AFP could handle so many different crime types. “You need a discrete unit. That’s why you see the big spike [in cases in the US].”

Michael Stefanovic, who was formerly the United Nations’ chief anti-corruption investigator also echoed the need for a specialized unit. He said the AFP’s bribery teams “need to be more accessible”, far better resourced and “have a clear anti-corruption brand.”

According to SMH, since it became illegal for Australian firms to bribe foreign officials to win overseas contracts in 1999, the AFP has launched more than 30 investigations, but only two have led to prosecutions.

Recently, Tabcorp came under fire for allegedly making a A$200,000 (US$150,300) payment to the family of Cambodia PM in an attempt to secure a lucrative online gaming license in Cambodia.