Friday 1st July 2011 saw dramatic movement in the fight against global corruption. In the UK, a major piece in the jigsaw of global anti-bribery legislation slotted into place as the Bribery Act came into force. Meanwhile, Division 70 of the Australian Criminal Code, a less familiar piece of that same jigsaw, made its debut when Federal police arrested a number of former executives of Securency International Pty Ltd (Securency) for corruption.
Those arrests on the other side of the world in the Securency case, while less heralded than the Bribery Act, are just as significant to those advising companies and individuals on the risks of becoming embroiled in multi- jurisdictional bribery investigations. The facts behind the arrests can be briefly stated. Securency is a joint venture company which is co-owned by the Australian Reserve Bank and Innovia Films, a UK packaging company. Australian prosecutors allege that Securency made corrupt payments of millions of dollars to government officials in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia to secure highly lucrative contracts for the production of polymer banknotes.
The Securency investigation marked yet another milestone in the increasingly co-operative and co-ordinated relationship between international anti-bribery agencies. Reflecting the ownership of Securency, the investigation was also joint: between the Australian Federal Police and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). That international investigation has borne fruit in both northern and southern hemispheres. While Securency and a number of its former senior executives face trial in Australia, the SFO is prosecuting William Lowther, OBE, CBE, for allegedly funding a degree at Durham University for the son of the Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam as part of the same conspiracy.