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Wheeling and False Dealing – new penalties

Changing or falsifying financial records to conceal a bribe is now subject to significant penalties under the Australian Criminal Code.

From 1 March 2016, anyone who intentionally or recklessly falsifies an accounting document to conceal an illegitimate payment or gift to a public official may be charged for assisting bribery.

Penalties can be up to

  • $1.8M and/or 10 years imprisonment for an individual, or
  • $18M or 3 times the value of the benefit optioned or 10% of annual turnover for a corporation.
Additional anti-bribery measure

Bribery of any public officials is illegal under Australian law and that of other jurisdictions. The new penalties extend enforcement into organisations by establishing liability for concealing any illegitimate actions by employees or agents.

False dealing includes deliberately altering, concealing or destroying financial records or failing to meet expected standards of accounting. This could include changing invoices, deliberately misrepresenting a transaction or failing to complete financial reports as required by law. It includes “recklessly” ignoring irregularities apparent in such documents.

Penalties apply where the effect of false dealing is to hide a payment or purchase that is intended to influence a public decision-maker and achieve a favourable outcome. Lack of intent is not a defence.

Impact on the University

This does mean that the likelihood of improper payments has increased. However, the nature of the new offences may have changed the questions to be asked by those with financial management responsibilities, particularly to ensure that all personnel are protected from avoidable risk.

The new penalties reinforce the need for awareness and transparency in all international engagement activities, including for example, the use of overseas agents for student recruitment.

Resources

Effective internal financial controls are already in place – check with Financial and Procurement Service for details.

Expectations and responsibilities of University personnel to prevent, detect and report bribery are set out in the Fraud and Corruption Control Policy and the Fraud and Corruption Control induction course (course is available to staff only).

Further information can be found on the Integrity and Public Administration Framework webpage.

If you have any questions or concerns about the legislation or would like any further information, please let us know by emailing us at legalcompliance@adelaide.edu.au.

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