Agency roles and responsibilities
Australia takes a whole-of-government approach to combating foreign bribery.
Supporting ethical business practices, and prosecuting those who engage in unethical practices, helps to improve Australia’s investment opportunities overseas. It is an important aspect of Australia’s excellent global reputation as a corruption-free trading partner.
Foreign bribery and other types of corruption skew competition, inhibit business growth and ultimately shrink the global market for Australian exports and investment. Incidents of foreign bribery in Australia or by Australians undermine the reputation of all Australian businesses and impact negatively on business and government relations.
This page outlines the roles of agencies responsible for responding to foreign bribery.
Our role in foreign bribery
We are responsible for whole-of-government policy for foreign bribery. As part of our role we:
- maintain an effective legal and policy regime
- raise awareness of foreign bribery laws among businesses
- lead Australia’s engagement with the OECD Working Group on Bribery on our compliance with the Anti‑Bribery Convention.
We are the central authority responsible for extradition, international transfer of prisoners and mutual assistance casework and related advice.
We also lead Australia’s engagement in a range of regional and international forums and initiatives focussed on combatting corruption, including the G20 Anti‑Corruption Working Group, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and the Asia‑Pacific Economic Cooperation Anti‑Corruption and Transparency Experts Task Force.
Other government agency responsibilities
Australian Federal Police
The AFP investigates offences against Commonwealth law, including the offence of bribing a foreign public official in Division 70.2 of the Criminal Code.
The AFP works closely with other Australian and international law enforcement bodies to enhance safety and security in Australia and to provide a secure regional and global environment. Corruption, including bribery of a foreign public official, is an area of high priority for the AFP.
The AFP has a specialised foreign bribery investigations team that brings together the expertise of domestic agencies and leverages international cooperation.
The AFP is a founding member of the International Foreign Bribery Taskforce. It comprises representatives from the United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand and Canada. It also has representation in the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC) in London, which has a focus on grand corruption and bribery.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
ASIC regulates Australian companies, financial markets, financial services organisations and professionals who deal and advise in financial products and advice, superannuation, insurance, deposit-taking and credit.
As the corporate regulator, ASIC ensures that companies, schemes and related entities meet their obligations under the Corporations Act. ASIC registers and regulates companies at every point from their incorporation through to their winding up, and is responsible for ensuring that company officers comply with their responsibilities to shareholders, creditors and third parties. It also registers and, where necessary, takes disciplinary action against company auditors and liquidators. ASIC monitors public companies’ financial reporting and disclosure and fundraising activities
ASIC is responsible for investigating fraudulent, misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to financial services, including some conduct outside Australia. ASIC and the AFP work closely together in the investigation of instances of suspected foreign bribery (noting AFP has primary responsibility for this crime type).
ASIC conducts prosecutions for some summary offences which it has investigated. Indictable offences and other summary offences are referred to the CDPP. There are guidelines between ASIC and the CDPP that deal with the referral of cases for prosecution and arrangements for the conduct of prosecutions.
Australian Taxation Office
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is the Australian Government’s principal revenue collection agency. The ATO and the AFP work closely together to investigate instances of serious and complex fraud and corruption matters, including suspected foreign bribery (noting AFP has primary responsibility for these crime types).
The ATO’s international relationships allow information and experience to be shared. These include Australia’s participation with working parties to the OECD, Automatic Exchange of Information work and other transparency measures.
The ATO has published guidelines for understanding and dealing with the bribery of Australian and foreign public officials. These provide tax officers with practical ways to identify how a taxpayer may be concealing bribe transactions to an Australian or foreign public official.
Austrade (the Australian Trade and Investment Commission) advances Australia’s international trade, investment, education and tourism interests by providing information, advice and services. Austrade can assist Australian companies by:
- providing practical guidance on conducting trade in foreign countries
- identifying or recommending a range of local agents
- helping to resolve an issue if a client company reaches an impasse because it refuses to pay a briber or make a facilitation payment
- providing information on practices that may breach Australian law
- leveraging the ‘badge-of-government’ to assist Australian exporters in situations where bribery or other illegal payments or inducements impede their operation, and
- raising issues of market access on a government-to-government level where there is evidence of systemic bribery.
The Austrade website provides an anti-bribery training and generic anti-bribery governance materials as well as information on how to access Austrade’s services.
Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)
AUSTRAC (the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) is Australia’s anti-money laundering regulator and specialist Financial Intelligence Unit and is responsible for ensuring the collection, analysis and dissemination of financial intelligence to its designated law enforcement, national security, revenue collection and social welfare partner agencies.
As part of this role, AUSTRAC allows domestic partner agencies (for example the ATO, ASIC, the ACC and the AFP) on-line access to the AUSTRAC database of financial transaction reports information. AUSTRAC also provides on-site training and analytical assistance to those agencies to assist their efforts in combating crime, revenue evasion, the funding of terrorism and major fraud.
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
The primary role of the CDPP is to prosecute offences against Commonwealth law, including the Criminal Code and Corporations Act.
All decisions in the prosecution process are made in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth. The Policy provides that a prosecution should not proceed unless there are reasonable prospects of conviction and the prosecutor is satisfied that the public interest would be served by a prosecution. The Policy sets out a range of factors to be taken into account when giving consideration to whether a prosecution is in the public interest.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advances the interests of Australia and Australians internationally. In relation to foreign bribery, DFAT undertakes outreach to ensure that Australian businesses are aware of their obligations under Australian anti-bribery laws.
Any Australian or Australian company operating overseas that encounters corruption is encouraged to contact the relevant Australian diplomatic mission for advice and assistance. The DFAT website provides information about foreign bribery and anti-corruption policy generally, as well as information about facilitation payments.
DFAT’s aid program works to support international efforts to tackle corruption and improve transparency and accountability. The aid program does this in three ways: through bilateral programs, supporting international institutions and through control over program funds.
DFAT refers all information concerning allegations of foreign bribery offences committed by Australians and Australian companies to the AFP for evaluation of any potential breach of Australian laws.
Export Finance Australia
Export Finance Australia (EFA) is Australia’s export credit agency. Its role is to make sure that Australian businesses with viable export and international business opportunities have the finance to succeed in international markets.
EFA has developed Transactional Anti-Bribery Procedures, which apply to all transactions and potential transactions being considered by EFA, including SMEs, mid-market and project finance transactions.
Standard provisions in EFA’s template transaction documents help address foreign bribery risks. These provisions include initial and repeating representations and warranties from contractual counterparties, which confirm the absence of bribery and corruption. These representations are generally a pre-requisite for EFA to provide its support.
EFA has an Anti-Corruption Policy which outlines the obligations of its staff in deterring and preventing bribery and corruption. All EFA staff must undertake annual anti‑corruption compliance training.
Other government agency resources
The following agencies provide online information and assistance on foreign bribery for business and the public:
- Australian Federal Police
- Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)
- Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)
- Australian Taxation Office
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Export Finance Australia (EFA).
The AFP and CDPP have developed the Best Practice Guidelines: Self-reporting of foreign bribery and related offending by corporations. These guidelines explain the principles and processes each agency applies when a corporation self-reports suspected foreign bribery or a related offence.