Leighton accused of corruption

Documents suggest senior execs may have been aware of kickbacks.

Senior executives and directors at Leighton Holdings (LEI) were far more aware of extensive bribery, corruption and cover-ups in the company's international divisions than previously believed, according to internal company files reported on by Fairfax Media.

During a six-month investigation by Fairfax, a range of Leighton documents suggested that the company's chief executive at the time, Wal King, and his successor David Stewart were aware of the practices, including plans to pay hefty kickbacks in Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere, among other questionable activities.

Among the documents was a handwritten memo on November 23, 2010 by then-acting chief executive Mr Stewart detailing how Leighton International's managing director, David Savage, revealed in a meeting that he and Mr King knew a $42 million kickback was paid to a company in Monaco nominated by Iraqi officials who chose Leighton for a $750 million oil pipeline contract, Fairfax reported.

“I asked did Wal K approve of this? And he said yes,” Mr Stewart's memo reportedly says.

The documents point to a range of other potentially questionable practices within the company that may call into question about the role Australia's corporate watchdog has or should play in investigating such matters.