November 28, 2018 / 2:55 AM / 10 months ago

Australia central bank subsidiaries charged, fined over bribery

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Two companies linked to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) paid fines and penalties totaling A$22.6 million ($16.3 million) in 2011 and 2012 after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to bribe foreign officials, the central bank revealed on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A man smokes next to the Reserve Bank of Australia headquarters in central Sydney, Australia February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

The offences were committed over December 1999 to September 2004 but the RBA, its fully owned subsidiary Note Printing Australia (NPA) and Securency, in which the central bank then held a 50 percent stake, were not permitted to disclose the charges, pleas and fines due to court suppression orders.

The court lifted those suppression orders on Wednesday. The RBA said neither it nor the two companies had sought the original non-publication orders.

In 2011, the Australian Federal Police alleged that NPA and Securency and a number of individuals had engaged in conspiracy with sales agents, including in Malaysia and Indonesia, to pay or offer to pay bribes to obtain or retain business, the RBA said in a chronology posted on its website.

“NPA paid fines totaling A$450,000 and a pecuniary penalty under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 of A$1,856,710. Securency paid fines totaling A$480,000 and a pecuniary penalty under the Proceeds of Crime Act of A$19,809,772,” the RBA said in a separate media statement.

The penalty orders were made in November 2011, while the fines were levied in a Supreme Court of Victoria sentencing judgment in July 2012.

The RBA said the boards of the two companies had no involvement in, or knowledge of, the offences, citing the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

“The RBA accepts there were shortcomings in its oversight of these companies, and changes to controls and governance have been made to ensure that a situation like this cannot happen again,” Governor Philip Lowe said in the statement.

In early 2013, the RBA sold its interest in Securency. NPA is still wholly owned by the RBA.

The Supreme Court of Victoria said on Wednesday that there was no longer any need for non-publication orders in the proceedings as charges against all co-accused had either been resolved or stayed.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by John Mair and Sam Holmes

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