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Corruption and bribery



The Australian Government regards corruption as a serious global risk.

According to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF):

'…corruption has the potential to bring catastrophic harm to economic development, the fight against organised crime, and respect for the law and effective governance.'

Australia is playing an active role in combating corruption through:

  • developing domestic policy on anti-corruption, and
  • as a party to key international anti-corruption conventions: the  United Nations Convention against Corruption and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

Australia also engages in a range of international anti-corruption forums, including:

Corruption and money laundering

Corruption and money laundering are closely linked.

Illicit gains are useless unless they are placed, layered, and integrated into the global financial network in a manner that does not raise suspicion.

The fight against money laundering is a powerful tool against corruption.

Role of reporting entities in fight against corruption

Businesses with reporting obligations under the AML/CTF act play an important role in the fight against corruption.

One of the ways business helps combat corruption is by meeting their AML/CTF obligations, particularly reporting obligations relating to suspicious matters  and suspect transactions.

Entities should consider whether to submit a suspicious matter or suspect transaction report to AUSTRAC when they are submitting:

AML/CTF programs

Businesses' AML/CTF programs should take bribery and corruption into account.

The primary purpose of Part B of an AML/CTF program is to ensure the business knows its customers and understands its customers' financial activities.

Identifying the person who ultimately owns or controls customers reduces opportunities for the misuse of companies and other legal structures to conceal the proceeds of corruption and other illicit activities.

The additional customer due diligence requirements that commenced on 1 June 2014 are closely linked to Australia's efforts to combat corruption including:

  • determining the 'beneficial owner' of a customer (the ultimate individual who owns or controls the customer)
  • determining if the customer or beneficial owner is a politically exposed person (PEP)
  • considering the associated risks and the purpose and intent of the business relationship with a customer
  • undertaking reasonable measures to update information in relation to customers.

Anti-corruption resources

Bribery of foreign officials

Bribing or attempting to bribe a foreign public official is a serious crime carrying weighty penalties.

Bribery includes providing, causing, offering or promising to provide any advantage to another person where the advantage is not legitimately due.

The intention of the bribe must be to influence a foreign public official for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or a business advantage that is not legitimately due to that person or company.

Bribery of a foreign public official can trigger:

  • bribery offences under Australian or international laws
  • criminal money laundering charges.


Penalties for bribery offences reflect the criminal nature of bribery and the detrimental effects it has on Australian trade and reputation, and on international governance.

Foreign bribery is a significant burden on the global economy, with the World Bank estimating the annual cost of bribery to be USD$1 trillion.

  • The maximum penalty for an individual is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 10,000 penalty units.
  • The maximum penalty for a body corporate can be a fine issued in penalty units or it can be a proportional penalty. 

More information about bribery of a foreign public official, including penalties, is available on the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department (AGD) website. See:

Members of the public who suspect that an Australian corporation or individual may have committed foreign bribery, can:

  • report the matter to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or
  • contact the Australian Federal Police in their capital city.

Anti-bribery resources

Last modified: 29/07/2016 12:38