Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Bribery? The RBA? No need for a Royal Commission"

So I guess it'll be up to Craig Thomson's economics committee. Oh my.
Labor and the Coalition have combined to oppose a push for a royal commission style inquiry into the Reserve Bank note printing bribery scandal.

Proposed by Greens MP Adam Bandt before the house adjourned late last night (MON) the inquiry would have examined allegations of corruption in securing note printing contracts and payments to overseas agents in offshore tax havens.

The inquiry would have been asked to uncover what the Reserve Bank, Austrade and the Australian government each knew about the alleged corruption, when they knew it, what due diligence was applied and what investigations were made into the allegations.

Mr Bandt told the House Because the more that came to light about the bank note scandal, the more it was clear the Reserve Bank faced serious questions about its corporate governance.

He said The Age had reported Reserve Bank executives failed to notify the police of evidence it had as far back as 2007 that agents of its subsidiary Note Printing Australia were bribing officials in Malaysia and Nepal....

The Australian Federal police were not told about the allegations until two years later, after The Age had exposed corruption concerns at another half-owned Reserve Bank subsidiary Securency.

Labor and Coalition MPs opposed an inquiry arguing it would interfere with the progress of bribery charges presently before the courts, the first under Australia's new foreign bribery laws.

Labor MP Tony Zappia quoted the Bank as saying the law firm it hired, Freehills had found no breach of Australian law by any of its staff or by Note Printing Australia.

Until the Australian Federal Police found otherwise he was prepared to rely on the word of the Bank.

Labor MP Andrew Leigh said the note printing technology commercialised by the Reserve Bank was world-leading, in the same league as the black box flight recorder. The Bank had served had served Australia well during the global financial crisis.

Coalition MP Kelly O'Dwyer said Treasurer Wayne Swan rather than the Bank should be answering questions. The Bank was already under investigation by the police and matters were before the courts.

Coalition MP Paul Fletcher a very serious justification would be needed to invoke the coercive powers of a royal commission. There would be no such justification until the police reported.

Mr Bandt said the inquiry would not cut across the police investigation because it would focus on the alleged failure of governance within the Reserve Bank, a matter beyond the scope of the police.

Mr Zappia said the parliamentary committee chaired by Labor's Craig Thomson would have an opportunity to quiz Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens when he appeared before it in Melbourne on Friday.

Debate on the motion was adjourned.

Published in today's SMH and Age

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