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Guilty Pleas made by Note Printing Australia and Securency in the Supreme Court of Victoria

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Following a decision by the Supreme Court of Victoria today, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is able to disclose that in late 2011 Note Printing Australia (NPA) and Securency[1] entered pleas of guilty to charges of conspiracy to bribe foreign officials in connection with banknote-related business. The offences were committed over the period from December 1999 to September 2004. The RBA and the companies were not permitted to disclose these pleas prior to today due to suppression orders, which have now been lifted. The orders were not sought by the RBA or the companies. The boards of NPA and Securency decided to enter guilty pleas at the earliest possible time rather than

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Following a decision by the Supreme Court of Victoria today, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is able to disclose that in late 2011 Note Printing Australia (NPA) and Securency[1] entered pleas of guilty to charges of conspiracy to bribe foreign officials in connection with banknote-related business. The offences were committed over the period from December 1999 to September 2004.

The RBA and the companies were not permitted to disclose these pleas prior to today due to suppression orders, which have now been lifted. The orders were not sought by the RBA or the companies.

The boards of NPA and Securency decided to enter guilty pleas at the earliest possible time rather than to defend the charges, reflecting an acceptance of responsibility and genuine remorse. The decisions to plead guilty were based on material that became available to the boards after allegations about Securency had been referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and followed extensive legal advice. The decisions also took into account the public interest in avoiding what was expected to be a costly and lengthy court process.

Throughout the legal process the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) acknowledged the very high degree of cooperation and assistance the companies provided to the AFP. The CDPP also accepted that the boards of the two companies had no involvement in, or knowledge of, the conduct in question. No evidence of knowledge or involvement by officers of the RBA, or the non-executive members of either board appointed by the RBA, has emerged in any of the relevant legal proceedings or otherwise.

The Governor said ‘The Reserve Bank strongly condemns corrupt and unethical behaviour. The RBA has been unable to talk about this matter publicly until today, although the guilty pleas were entered in 2011. The RBA accepts there were shortcomings in its oversight of these companies, and changes to controls and governance have been made to ensure that a situation like this cannot happen again.’

In 2011 the Reserve Bank Board commissioned a thorough external review of the RBA oversight of the companies. The RBA oversaw a comprehensive strengthening of governance arrangements and business practices in the two companies. In early 2013 the RBA sold its interest in Securency, having ensured that all the compliance issues of which the RBA was aware had been addressed.

With the lifting of the suppression orders, the RBA is now also able to disclose that the companies paid substantial penalties as a result of the court proceedings. NPA paid fines totalling $450,000 and a pecuniary penalty under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 of $1,856,710. Securency paid fines totalling $480,000 and a pecuniary penalty under the Proceeds of Crime Act of $19,809,772.

Since the companies entered their pleas, four former employees of Securency have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to bribe and/or false accounting. Charges against four former employees of NPA were permanently stayed on the basis that continued prosecution of these individuals would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

For more information on relevant events, see this chronology and the statement by Glenn Stevens, former Governor of the RBA, at a special full-day hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics on 8 October 2012. For more on the sale of the RBA's stake in Securency see media release dated 12 February 2013. Related information is provided on the RBA's website.

Reserve Bank Australia
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) came into being on 14 January 1960 as Australia's central bank and banknote issuing authority, when the Reserve Bank Act 1959 removed the central banking functions from the Commonwealth Bank. The bank has the responsibility of providing services to the Government of Australia in addition to also providing services to other central banks and official institutions. It currently consists of the Payments System Board, which governs the payments system policy of the bank, and the Reserve Bank Board, which governs all other monetary and banking policies of the bank.

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