Foreign officials bribed to win contracts to print polymer bank notes in Malaysia.
Momentum gathers for inquiry into RBA bribe scandal
By Samantha Donovan, staff | ABC – 44 minutes ago
Pressure for an independent inquiry into bribery allegations involving two companies owned by the Reserve Bank is growing, after the ABC revealed a memo which seems to suggest at least one senior RBA official knew of the allegations before they became public.
Eight former senior executives from two firms owned by the RBA are facing allegations that they paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to win bank note printing contracts overseas.
The 7.30 program to the RBA's former deputy governor, Rick Battelino, warning him of alleged corruption by the companies.
The memo is dated two years before the Federal Police were eventually called in.
The case involves the note-printing firms Securency and Note Printing Australia (NPA), who are alleged to have bribed foreign officials to help win contracts to print polymer bank notes in Malaysia and Nepal.
The RBA says the program's allegations are "ill-founded", and RBA Governor Glenn Stevens has consistently told a parliamentary committee that the RBA board knew little or nothing of the bribery allegations until they were reported by The Age newspaper in 2009.
Last year Greens MP Adam Bandt called for an independent inquiry into the allegations against Securency and Note Printing Australia, but the Government and Coalition voted against his motion.
Mr Bandt says he is hoping the latest revelations will change their minds.
"Evidence is emerging that suggests that the highest levels of the Reserve Bank of Australia knew that its subsidiaries were paying millions of dollars in public money in what are alleged to be corrupt payments to people overseas in order to secure contracts, and that despite being notified about, it the board of the Reserve Bank didn't take the matter to the police." He says the investigation should have the powers of a royal commission.
"That call for a royal commission was voted down by the Labor and Liberal parties in 2011, but my hope is that after the allegations that have appeared on the 7.30 report, they'll reconsider that and we can move to have a full inquiry," he said.
'Satisfactory answers' Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says the latest revelations take the Securency scandal to a whole new level.
"Clearly the first thing that needs to be done is to seek an order for the production of documents through the Senate.
That's something that I'll be moving for," he said.
"The second issue is whether there ought to be a Senate committee looking into these issues involving the Reserve Bank.
"Ultimately if there aren't satisfactory answers, then there ought to be an independent inquiry, a judicial inquiry, to get behind these allegations." Liberal MP Tony Smith is a member of the House of Representatives Economics Committee.
Mr Smith has questioned Mr Stevens about the RBA board's knowledge of the corruption allegations at previous hearings, and he says he will be raising them again at the committee hearing this Friday.
But he does not think an independent inquiry is necessary.
"The House of Representatives Economics Committee is the oversight committee for the Reserve Bank.
It's been receiving evidence for some time and it's meeting again this Friday," he said.
"So I think that's the appropriate authority to examine these matters, not just on Friday but in future hearings." The RBA says it rejects the implication that the governor or other officers of the bank have misled the House of Representatives committee.
It says the memo was compiled at Mr Battelino's request and was examined by lawyers for the board of NPA in 2007.
Eight former executives of Securency and NPA are now facing committal hearings in the Victorian County Court.
The RBA says the memo is part of the evidence in those proceedings.
The office of the Treasurer Wayne Swan did not respond to AM's request for comment.