Foreign bribery money envelkope


Author: Nyman Gibson Miralis

Subject: Foreign Bribery

Keywords: foreign bribery obligations, OECD, AFP


International conventions on bribery

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) established a Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. It is the first and only international anti-corruption instrument focused on the ‘supply side’ of the bribery transaction.
The Convention establishes legally binding standards to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and provides related measures that aim to make this effective.
Australia is a signatory to the Convention and regularly submits monitoring reports to the OECD to ensure compliance with the Convention. The OECD also periodically reviews Australia’s performance through a working group comprised of OECD delegates from various member states. These reports and reviews ensure that Australia complies with its international obligations.


Who investigates foreign bribery allegations in Australia?

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is responsible for investigating allegations of foreign bribery relating to Australian citizens, residents and corporate entities.
The AFP is heavily reliant on the public to report foreign bribery when it is discovered. Foreign bribery can be detected and reported by employees, auditors, competitors, government officials or anyone who is engaged in any form of business with foreign countries.


What are some Indicators of foreign bribery?

The following is a list of some indicators that foreign bribery may have occurred:

  • Payments made through third party countries without a legitimate explanation
  • Contracts being won without tender
  • Unusually large commissions being paid to agents
  • Unexplained or unaccounted for cash payments
  • Expensive tenders winning contacts over comparable, cheaper tenders
  • Lavish gifts or hospitality
  • Internal company protocols and guidelines not being adhered to
  • Contracts where agents or employees have inside information on the tender process


Foreign bribery in China – a case study

In 2012, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc agreed to pay US$60.2 million to settle a government probe of the company’s use of illegal payments to win business overseas.
The improper payments were made to officials in Russia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Czech Republic, China and Italy.
In China, for example, Pfizer employees hosted “club-like meetings” for government doctors who wrote a lot of prescriptions. The company also created programs where government doctors could accumulate points based on the number of prescriptions they wrote for Pfizer products. The points could be redeemed for gifts ranging from medical books to cell phones, tea sets, and reading glasses.


How seriously does Australian view foreign bribery?

The Australian Senate commenced an inquiry into foreign bribery in 2015.


How is foreign bribery defined?

Discover the legal definition of foreign bribery


What are some of the international sources of Australia’s foreign bribery laws?

See how Australia’s foreign bribery laws are informed by international bodies.


Nyman Gibson Miralis are experts in foreign bribery matters that involve multiple jurisdictional investigations. If you require assistance, contact one of our expert criminal defence lawyers