Austrade CEO announces retirement

THE head of Australia's trade agency has retired after overseeing the organisation's restructure amid ongoing controversy over Austrade's role in the Reserve Bank bribery scandal. Peter Grey, a 42-year public-service veteran, announced his retirement as Austrade chief executive officer in an email to staff on Wednesday.

THE head of Australia's trade agency has retired after overseeing the organisation's restructure amid ongoing controversy over Austrade's role in the Reserve Bank bribery scandal.

Peter Grey, a 42-year public-service veteran, announced his retirement as Austrade chief executive officer in an email to staff on Wednesday.

Since taking up the position in March 2010, Mr Grey, 64, has overseen its restructure, with huge emphasis on improving the agency's awareness of corruption issues affecting Australian companies overseas.

Mr Grey will remain in the role for a short period until Trade Minister Craig Emerson appoints a successor.

Austrade has come under scrutiny for its role in a bribery scandal involving RBA currency-printing subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia.

Both companies and eight former executives were last year charged by federal police with bribing foreign officials in Nepal, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia to win central-bank currency-supply contracts.

Austrade officials were closely involved in the companies' affairs and recommended it use overseas agents police allege were part of the conspiracy.

"I appreciate that the past two-and-a-half years have been difficult and unsettling for many staff but I also believe it has been ultimately worthwhile," Mr Grey said.

He said his retirement would not surprise his close colleagues "as I have been foreshadowing this for some time".

The Age yesterday reported Austrade had put former prime minister Paul Keating and executives from a company owned by transport magnate Lindsay Fox in contact with Anh Ngoc Luong, the Vietnamese spy chief at the centre of the scandal.

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