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The Age: ASIC Bungled RBA Probe

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Despite compelling evidence and requests for investigation by the AFP, ASIC failed to investigate even ONE significant witness in relation to the Securrency / NPA scandal.

My opinion? Time for Medcraft to go. After facing court for his part in the cover up, that is. Looks like a Royal Commission is getting closer than ever.



AUSTRALIA's corporate watchdog bungled its handling of the nation's biggest bribery scandal by failing to interview a single relevant witness and misspelling the lead police investigator's name in emails, leaving crucial correspondence stalled or unread.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission announced in March that it would not act on a federal police referral to investigate the RBA bank note scandal, despite the AFP and government lawyers finding compelling grounds to do so.

The Saturday Age can reveal that so strong is the evidence of possible corporate malfeasance that prior to referring the matter to ASIC, the federal police considered taking the rare step of getting a special delegation from the Gillard government to investigate corporate law offences.

ASIC's failure to conduct the most basic of investigations into the matter has not only infuriated senior law enforcement sources in Canberra, but left a major part of Australia's worst corporate corruption scandal untouched. It has also sparked questions about whether the intense political sensitivities that could flow from a probe that ensnared top serving and former RBA officials has influenced ASIC's conduct.

Liberal MP Tony Smith said he intended to grill ASIC chief Greg Medcraft about the issue, while independent senator Nick Xenophon questioned ''the extent ASIC has been blindsided by the fact that these allegations involve subsidiaries of the Reserve Bank''.

''It seems extraordinary that given the seriousness of these allegations and what is at stake here, that not one relevant witness has been interviewed by ASIC,'' Senator Xenophon said. ''This is serious enough to warrant a special taskforce from ASIC.''

A senior legal source aware of evidence implicating some of the directors of allegedly corrupt RBA subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia said it was ''very strong'' and included the reckless approval of payments to a suspected corrupt arms dealer and to front companies in known tax havens.

Yesterday The Age revealed that several directors of both companies - including top RBA officials - were told of explicit bribery and corporate corruption concerns in 2007 but chose not to call police.

It was revealed in court on Thursday that a corruption whistleblower, former RBA banknote company secretary Brian Hood, was made redundant in 2008 by top reserve official Bob Rankin after Mr Hood repeatedly raised corporate corruption concerns.

Australian corporate laws that ASIC ostensibly enforces prohibit victimisation of whistleblowers or reckless conduct by directors.

ASIC's task of beginning a probe was made vastly easier after the AFP gave it boxes of evidence related to possible corporate charges identified during the AFP's probe of criminal bribery offences.

But it is understood that ASIC investigators did not question a single director, or interview any relevant witness, about the material provided by police.

Documents obtained by The Saturday Age under freedom of information laws also reveal ASIC only twice corresponded in writing with police about the bribery scandal before deciding not to launch a formal probe.

In July last year, a senior ASIC investigator emailed the head of the federal police taskforce investigating Securency and NPA to seek advice.

''The deputy chair of ASIC has requested that I inquire of the AFP as to the scope of its investigations and the charges that have been laid before ASIC makes any decision as to whether we need to investigate anything arising from this matter," the investigator wrote.

''ASIC would not want to duplicate any work that the AFP has already undertaken so it would be appreciated if you could assist ASIC in determining whether it should commence any investigation.''

However, the ASIC investigator misspelt the email address of the senior AFP officer, calling him ''Roland Pike'' instead of Rohan Pike.

This meant Agent Pike did not receive ASIC's initial email.

In the email, ASIC also mistakenly writes that the AFP ''was given delegation by the minister to prosecute Corporations Act offences as part of their investigation,'' despite the fact that this was not ultimately given to the federal police by the government.

ASIC declined to release the only other piece of written correspondence between it and the federal police, a series of emails sent in March just before it announced it would not investigate directors of the RBA firms. While police have charged both Securency and Note Printing Australia, along with eight former executives, with criminal bribery offences, no action has been taken against the directors of the companies. ASIC chairman Mr Medcraft has yet to publicly explain the basis for his decision not to investigate.

An ASIC spokesman told The Saturday Age that a thorough assessment of the material provided by federal police had occurred before it was decided not to investigate. But he declined to answer a series of specific questions.

''Should new information come to our attention that warrants further examination, we will review that in the normal course, but cannot be drawn on the specific circumstances you have raised,'' the spokesman said.

Yesterday, during the criminal committal proceedings of the former banknote executives charged with bribery, the Melbourne Magistrates Court heard fresh evidence from Mr Hood. He told the court he was ''surprised'' when Note Printing's Malaysian agent, arms dealer Abdul Kayum, arrived at his Melbourne office to ''deliver a message'' to Mr Hood about what his $2.2 million commission payment was used for.

Mr Hood said Kayum did not use the word ''bribe'' but left ''absolutely no room for interpretation''.

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  • doyla66
    doyla66 Saturday, 15 September 2012

    This is looking a bit better: RBA, then ASIC.
    AFP motivated...special delegation re corporate Law offenses ... RBA amongst other corporate offenses?
    How many years do we have to wait for AFP to get motivated and have the budget to investigate our Corporate Law Offenses???

  • doyla66
    doyla66 Saturday, 15 September 2012

    I reckon its all lip service from the AFP. Remember, global banks (of which the RBA Central Bank is one) run both sides of politics in this and almost every country. The governments run the police forces, the regulatory bodies (ASIC / APRA) and the courts. Unless it suits the purposes of the banks somehow, justice for the little man is rare to come by. We'll see. I really hope I'm wrong on this one and justice is served. Cold.

  • doyla66
    doyla66 Saturday, 15 September 2012

    I was trying to find something positive in it. Glenn Stevens looked so dreadful last time I saw him on the ABC I almost felt sorry for him.
    How about the ASIC effort? It would be funny if it were not so tragic. And everything takes so long to get going on Inquiries, let alone court or anything further. Why doesn't some magic journalist ask them why it takes so long to get moving? I hope the ABC are getting some of the ASIC budget for investigation. Once the ABC take on an issue they do have considerable clout in creating change and action. It will be our turn sometime soon...

  • doyla66
    doyla66 Saturday, 15 September 2012

    Glenn Stevens only looked dreadful because he is finally having to answers some questions about the job he is so very highly paid to do! He does not deserve anyone feeling sorry for him (unless it is his wife/family) & he CHOSE to accept the position with the accompanying high salary & ALL of the responsibilities that came with it. I find it tragic that he does not get his organisation more motivated or pro-active in the jobs they are ALL paid to do.

  • doyla66
    doyla66 Sunday, 16 September 2012

    I guess it was a big shock to discover that even with PM's back up he could still be fried, despite being a teflon coated banker.
    Come to think of it, he could be sporting a barroom tan.
    There was one look that the camera caught where he almost looked amused by it all - very weird.
    Well at least he'll get an hour's sunlight and fresh air per day in the exercise yard.

  • doyla66
    doyla66 Sunday, 16 September 2012

    ASIC: proof positive, guilty as charged - "perverting the course of justice" - ditto RMBS low-doc fraud!!!

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