Friday, December 9, 2011

Corruption: A serious global problem

Stamping out corruption

December 10, 2011 01:13 AM
Lex Bartlem, Juan Carlos Gafo and Jan Cizek
Lex Bartlem, Juan Carlos Gafo and Jan Cizek

Corruption is a serious global problem – one which has devastating impacts for individuals, businesses and communities. It discourages investment and distorts markets, leading to the depletion of resources for important community services like schools, hospitals and roads.
On Dec. 9, the world marked International Anti-Corruption Day. The day provides an opportunity to highlight this serious global problem. 

Australia is committed to working with our international friends to support ethical business practices, and to press for the prosecution of those who engage in illegal activities.
For Australians – wherever they do their business – bribing, or attempting to bribe, a foreign public official is a serious crime, subject to severe penalties. Australian companies or individuals that bribe an official in a foreign country can be prosecuted under Australian law as well as under the laws of foreign countries.

Companies may also be liable for the actions of their employees and agents under Australia’s laws that target foreign bribery. This may include circumstances in which the bribery of foreign public officials was encouraged or tolerated or where there was a failure to create and maintain a corporate culture that required compliance with anti-foreign bribery laws.
Under Australian law, it is also an offense to bribe a foreign public official even if a bribe may be seen to be customary, necessary or required in the particular situation, and even if there is official tolerance of the bribe.

These penalties reflect the serious nature of bribery and the detrimental effect it has on Australia’s trade and reputation, as well as international governance. Importantly, the foreign bribery offense has extraterritorial jurisdiction and applies to Australian individuals and companies committing the offense anywhere in the world.

While Australia has an admirable anti-corruption record, we need to examine our legislation in light of international developments and hear from Australian businesses doing business beyond our own shores, including in Lebanon.

With this in mind, Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor MP has launched a public consultation paper to seek stakeholder views on possible changes to Australia’s foreign bribery laws.

Australia remains committed to working with the international community to stamp out corruption and to ensure ethical business practices.
Lex Bartlem is Australia’s ambassador to Lebanon.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 10, 2011, on page 4.
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

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