On 27 November 2018, a former employee of a Reserve Bank of Australia subsidiary, Securency International Pty Ltd (Securency), pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe foreign public officials. As a result, the Supreme Court of Victoria lifted suppression orders that were sought in 2011 by the co-accused to protect their fair trials, permitting the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to advise the outcomes from Australia’s first foreign bribery prosecution.
In 2009, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) commenced an investigation into allegations of bribery of foreign public officials by Securency and Note Printing Australia Pty Ltd (NPA) and several employees and agents of the companies to obtain banknote contracts in Malaysia, Nepal, Indonesia and Vietnam. Securency produces polymer substrate, upon which NPA prints banknotes.
Securency and NPA
In October 2011, Securency and NPA each pleaded guilty to three charges of conspiracy to commit foreign bribery. Securency’s offending occurred in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. NPA’s offending occurred in Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal. In July 2012, Securency was sentenced to fines totalling $480,000 and NPA was sentenced to fines totalling $450,000. The fines would have been more substantial were it not for both companies pleading guilty and undertaking to cooperate with the authorities in relation to the prosecutions of their employees and agents.
Securency and NPA cooperated in a proceeds of crime application that was brought as a result of the successful company prosecutions. The companies paid a combined total of $21,666,482 in pecuniary penalty orders. At the time of writing, the pecuniary penalties against NPA and Securency are the largest ever ordered.
On 18 July 2012, John Ellery, the former Chief Financial Officer and company secretary of Securency, pleaded guilty to a charge of false accounting in relation to a payment of commission made to the Malaysian agent and falsely described as marketing and other expenses. Mr Ellery cooperated with authorities, pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and his remorse was considered genuine. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, with the term suspended for a period of two years. Were it not for his plea of guilty, he would have been sentenced to one years imprisonment with a non-parole period of nine months.
On 30 September 2013, Radius Christanto, the Indonesian agent for Securency, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe foreign public officials in Indonesia. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment, and was released to be of good behaviour for two years. The sentencing judge took into account 42 days imprisonment that Mr Christanto served in Singapore prior to his extradition to Australia, his early plea of guilty and associated remorse and extensive cooperation that he undertook to provide to Australian authorities. Had Mr Christanto not pleaded guilty or offered future cooperation, he would have been sentenced to five years imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of three years and four months.
On 10 October 2017, Myles Curtis, Securency’s former Chief Executive Officer and general manager, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe foreign public officials in Indonesia and Malaysia, and to false accounting for a payment of commission made to the Malaysian agent and falsely described as marketing and other expenses. On the conspiracy to bribe foreign public officials charge, Mr Curtis was sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment, but released to be of good behaviour for two years and six months. On the false accounting charge, Mr Curtis was sentenced to six months imprisonment, wholly suspended for one year. Were it not for his plea of guilty, he would have been sentenced to three years imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years on the conspiracy charge, and one year imprisonment with a six month non-parole period on the false accounting charge.
On 30 May 2018, Clifford Gerathy, the former senior business development manager of Securency, pleaded guilty to false accounting for the payment of commission made to the Malaysia agent and falsely described as marketing and other expenses. He was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for six months. If he had not pleaded guilty, he would have been sentenced to four months immediate imprisonment.
In a press release issued following Mr Gerathy’s sentence, AFP Acting Commander Kate Ferry, Manager Criminal Assets, Fraud and Anti-Corruption stated that “this case sends a clear message that investigators and prosecutors are actively pursuing this type of crime to ensure that corporations and their employees are held accountable.”
On 27 November 2018, Christian Boillot, a former banknote specialist of Securency, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe foreign public officials in Malaysia. He was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment, but released to be of good behaviour for two years. Were it not for his plea of guilty he would have been sentenced to three years imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of two years. Mr Boillot had been held in prison for 84 days in Germany and Australia following his arrest in 2011 and had remained in Australia on bail since September 2011.
In sentencing Mr Boillot, Justice Hollingworth of the Supreme Court of Victoria noted the significant adverse effects that the foreign bribery offences have had on two whistle-blowers, Mr Brian Hood and Mr James Shelton. Her Honour remarked that ‘Mr Hood and Mr Shelton had both showed tremendous courage in raising their concerns about foreign bribery activities with appropriate people’. Her Honour further remarked that ‘the various foreign bribery court proceedings have lasted for many years longer than anyone might have anticipated, without there having been any public acknowledgement of the very important role played by [Mr] Brian Hood and [Mr] James Shelton in exposing what happened within Securency and NPA’.
The CDPP was unable to pursue the prosecution against four accused persons whose trials were permanently stayed following unlawful compulsory examinations conducted by the Australian Crime Commission. The decision to permanently stay these proceedings was overturned by the Victorian Court of Appeal in May 2017 but reinstated by the High Court of Australia in November 2018.
Mr Berdj Tchakerian, acting Deputy Director at the CDPP today said that 'The final resolution of these matters brings to a close what has been one of the most complicated and significant prosecutions ever brought by the CDPP. It demonstrates our commitment to pursue the enforcement of serious corporate crime, and foreign bribery offences in particular.'
CDPP Media contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 6206 5708.