25 October 2012

'Bribery on global scale'

THE global bribery campaign of a Reserve Bank company engulfed more than a dozen countries, according to explosive police evidence aired in court.

"I haven't seen a country which involves an agent where they [Securency] did not commit bribery," said Federal Agent Rohan Pike, testifying yesterday in the committal of eight former executives from Securency and its sister company Note Printing Australia. He also told the court he believed criminal activity continued "under the watch" of former Reserve Bank assistant governor and company chairman Bob Rankin as late as May 2009, when allegations were revealed by The Age.

Senior executives have been charged over dealings in three countries - Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia - between 1999 and 2006.

But Mr Pike, who led the federal police investigation, yesterday suggested the extent of the scandal was far greater. The court has previously been shown a 2007 Securency document outlining 17 countries with agents: Bangladesh, India, Angola, Botswana, Dubai, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, China, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Nigeria.

Barrister Mandy Fox, representing former Securency managing director Myles Curtis, said Mr Pike should not make allegations about other countries when there was no evidence before the court and she was unable to ask further questions about it.

Mr Pike also revealed that a 10th banknote executive would be dragged into the affair, saying former Securency marketing director Joe Mamo would be charged over conspiring to pay for the son of the governor at the State Bank of Vietnam to attend Britain's Durham University.

The court heard Mr Mamo had been named as a co-conspirator in charges against others. Mr Pike said police had not yet provided the evidence brief to prosecutors, but had written to Mr Mamo's lawyers in late July or early August this year, outlining the expected charges.

Mr Pike denied Ms Fox's suggestion that police were "holding off charging him for as long as possible in the hope he will co-operate".

He agreed later when Ms Fox asked: "So you believed the criminal activity was going on in May 2009 under Dr Rankin's watch?"

In response to questions about why no statement had been taken from former Reserve Bank deputy governor Graeme Thompson, who was chairman of both company boards during the period of the charges, Mr Pike said police had met Mr Thompson but did not take a statement because "we had ample evidence of the board activities during his tenure and he couldn't add to it".

Curtis had been asked about what had been discussed with Mr Thompson "many times", Mr Pike said. "If he wants to tell us about his interactions with Mr Thompson we are all ears."

He said there was "nowhere near" enough evidence to charge Mr Thompson.

"There is evidence that Mr Thompson was involved in authorising payments and authorising illegitimate payments. But there was no evidence he knew that money was going to influence foreign officials."

Police referred the matter to ASIC for investigation of corporate malfeasance but the corporate regulator never investigated.


Now the courtroom (?) farce will start, and the 'untouchables' will remain so.

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