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Foreign bribery and grand corruption

Working with other government agencies in Australia and overseas to stamp out these serious offences

Foreign bribery and grand corruption

It's a serious criminal offence to bribe a foreign public official to get or retain business, or a business advantage. The types of offences are outlined in Section 70.2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

Bribes can come in many forms, including:

  • money
  • gifts
  • holidays
  • work for friends or relatives
  • paying school fees.

Bribery distorts markets, artificially inflates prices, undermines democracy and may lead to substandard products. It is not a victimless crime. It results in the loss of billions of dollars from some of the most vulnerable communities across the globe.

We investigate reports of foreign bribery relating to Australian citizens, residents and registered companies, and partially or wholly happening in Australia.

Read more about Australia's zero tolerance of foreign bribery:

Attorney-General's Department's website

Austrade's website

The penalties

Foreign bribery is an offence under Australian legislation for both individuals and corporations. If convicted:

  • individuals face up to 10 years imprisonment, and/or a fine up to 10,000 penalty units*
  • Corporations, and anybody related to the corporation, face a fine up to 100,000 penalty units* or 3 times the value gained from the benefit, whichever is greater. If the value of can't be determined, the corporation faces a fine of 10 per cent of its annual turnover (taken from the 12 month-period when the offence took place).

The penalties are substantial to reflect the seriousness of bribery and its consequences. In addition to criminal penalties, any benefits obtained by foreign bribery can be forfeited to the Australian Government under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth).

*As at 1 January 2023, 1 penalty unit = $275

Reporting foreign bribery

If you suspect that an Australian individual or company has bribed, or tried to bribe, a foreign official, let us know by either:

If your company becomes aware that it's involved in foreign bribery, self-report the possible criminal conduct to us.

Our international role

The Australian Government works to fight bribery and corruption both here and overseas.

In 1999, Australia ratified the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

On 9 December 2003, Australia signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and ratified it on 7 December 2005. Most countries in the world have signed it.

Australia is also a key member of the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group.

The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC)

Established in July 2017, the IACCC aims to provide coordinated support for law enforcement agencies to investigate grand corruption offences, such as:

  • bribery of public officials
  • embezzlement
  • abuse of function
  • laundering of the proceeds of crime.

It brings together a range of law enforcement partners, including the AFP, to provide real-time intelligence to investigating agencies. It focuses on identifying assets, accounts and the movement of money suspected to be connected to grand corruption.

Its functions are to:

  • inform which organisations and initiatives can help
  • assist with practical actions and advice
  • collect information to form a single picture of grand corruption
  • coordinate an effective global law enforcement response
  • collaborate by creating a constructive, cooperative and agreed approach.

The AFP is attached to the IACCC, as well as INTERPOL and law enforcement agencies from:

  • the United States of America
  • the United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore.