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Fresh calls for inquiry into Australian currency scandal

12 сентября 2012, 16:32
Photo courtesy of accountancyage.com
Photo courtesy of accountancyage.com
New documents reportedly showing that Australia's central bank knew about a banknote bribery scandal before it became public raised fresh calls Wednesday for an inquiry into the allegations, AFP reports.

The scandal involves two note-printing subsidiaries of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) -- Securency and Note Printing Australia -- and allegations that they paid bribes to win contracts in Asia.

RBA Governor Glenn Stevens told a parliamentary inquiry last month the bank knew nothing about the scandal before it was exposed by the Australian media in mid-2009.

But files obtained by The Age reportedly show that in 2007 RBA assistant governor Frank Campbell was told Securency had inflated a contract to hide a Aus$492,000 (US$514,000) payment to an allegedly corrupt Malaysian arms dealer.

The Age said the internal records reveal the matter was raised at a Note Printing Australia board meeting in September 2007 at which both Campbell and NPA and Securency chairman Graeme Thompson were present.

The internal RBA documents show the arms dealer's company also wrote to Campbell to demand other payments, saying "it had convinced the prime minister and the Malaysian cabinet" to award contracts, it said.

The new revelations prompted a fresh call for an independent probe.

"I think it's got to the the point now where so many questions are being asked that the only way we can clear the air and lift that cloud is through a full inquiry," Greens MP Adam Bandt told the ABC.

The RBA denies it attempted to hide information, saying it had cooperated fully with legal authorities, notifying them of the existence of relevant documents and providing documents when requested.

"Even if it were ultimately to be concluded, with the benefit of hindsight, that incorrect conclusions were drawn from the various investigations, the Bank and the NPA Board relied on the information available at the time and external legal advice," it said in a statement late Tuesday.

"The Bank's executives acted in good faith and with integrity. It is completely without foundation to suggest otherwise."

Eight executives from the two firms either wholly or partly-owned by the bank -- NPA and Securency -- are facing claims they conspired to bribe officials at foreign banks to secure contracts to make plastic banknotes.

The RBA said it was committed to transparency and was working on getting court permission to allow it to table a range of relevant documents.

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