Australian Federal Police raided the office of Securency, a banknote-material maker that’s half-owned by the nation’s central bank, as part of a probe into alleged bribery of foreign officials, the Age reported, without citing anyone. This again gives the lie to Professor Chukwuma Soludo’s claim that the Australian authorities had finished investigating the polymer making company and nothing was found.
Officers also used warrants to search the homes of two Melbourne-based executives of Securency International Pty, the Craigieburn, Victoria-based supplier of polymers on which Australian notes are printed, the newspaper said.
In reaction, Securency International Pty, said it asked its managing director and company secretary to “stand aside” from their positions while an investigation takes place into alleged bribery. The company has been under investigation since May in connection with commissions paid to politically connected individuals in Nigeria, Vietnam and Malaysia, the Age reported.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Police said officers searched a commercial office in Craigieburn and two homes in Victoria. She declined to comment further. A phone message left at Securency’s headquarters wasn’t returned. A spokeswoman for the Sydney-based Reserve Bank of Australia declined to comment.
Elombah.com had revealed that Soludo, the former CBN governor was named as one of the officials that received bribes allegedly paid to Nigerian officials in order to secure contracts for the printing of polymer naira notes.
We had carried a report that a Reserve Bank of Australia company is under federal police investigation for allegedly bribing Nigerian officials to win a banknote deal in the most serious development yet in the cash-for-contracts scandal.
Formed in 1996, Securency is a joint venture between the Reserve Bank and Innovia Films, according to its Web site. Polymer banknotes have been issued in 27 countries, according to the company.
The Royal Bank of Australia, RBA, asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate allegations of impropriety at Securency raised in articles published by the Age earlier this year, according to the central bank’s annual report.
Australian police executed search warrants at the company’s premises after Securency referred claims by The Age newspaper to the police, Craigieburn, Victoria-based Securency said in a statement on its Web site Friday.
The statement didn’t identify the two people asked to stand aside. The company also commissioned KPMG International to carry out an investigation.
Securency has been under investigation since May in connection with commissions paid to politically connected people in Nigeria, Vietnam and Malaysia, the Age reported. The KPMG investigation, which is not yet complete, includes a “detailed forensic examination” of communications and payments made by the company going back several years.
The investigation found complaints of a similar nature were expressed in 2007, Securency said in the statement. “Securency has strict policies and procedures against such payments,” the company said in the statement.
“The board has asked KPMG to undertake a case-by-case assessment of every agent arrangement.” The company also said action is being taken to suspend marketing activities involving agents.
Securency, formed in 1996, is a joint venture between the Reserve Bank of Australia and Innovia Films, according to its Web site. The Reserve Bank said in a statement on its Web site today that it endorses the action taken by Securency.
In a Statement by the Board of Securency International Pty Ltd, the Company said:
On 23 May 2009, allegations were made in The Age newspaper that payments made to agents by Securency International Pty Ltd may have been used by the agents to pay ‘kickbacks’ to foreign government officials.
Securency has strict policies and procedures prohibiting such payments. Accordingly, the Board of Securency took the allegations very seriously and referred them to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The AFP commenced an investigation shortly thereafter, which is ongoing. As part of that investigation, the AFP has executed search warrants at the company’s premises.
Securency also commissioned KPMG to conduct an independent evaluation of the policies and procedures in place governing use of agents and the company’s compliance with these directives. This included a detailed forensic examination of communications and payments by the company going back several years. The letter of engagement is attached. While the investigations of the AFP and KPMG are independent, KPMG has provided all information obtained to the AFP.
The KPMG investigation is not yet complete. At this point, the investigation has found that concerns of a similar nature had been expressed in 2007 by a member of staff to Securency management. An internal investigation by company management at the time concluded that no actions were required. None of this information was communicated to Securency’s Board. Nor was it made available to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s auditors who conducted an audit of compliance with company policy on agents shortly thereafter, and found that the company had a good and robust process governing payments to agents. The Board’s view is that such non-disclosure by company management is unacceptable.
The Board of Securency has met to consider what immediate steps are required. Three actions have been agreed:
First, it has asked the Managing Director and the Company Secretary to stand aside from their positions while investigations continue.
Second, the Board has asked KPMG to undertake a case-by-case assessment of every agent arrangement.
Third, while that assessment is being undertaken, immediate steps are being taken to suspend marketing activities involving agents.
Securency remains committed to taking any steps required as a result of either the AFP or KPMG inquiries.