Stamp out kickbacks: ANZ

Australia needs to send a loud and clear message that it does not pay or condone facilitation payments, business people say in the wake of foreign bribery allegations involving Leighton Holdings and the Reserve Bank.

Australia needs to send a loud and clear message that it does not pay or condone facilitation payments, business people say in the wake of foreign bribery allegations involving Leighton Holdings and the Reserve Bank.

ANZ chief executive officer Mike Smith said there needed to be "zero tolerance" for the practice.

"One of the things that emerging countries like by bringing in a company with very good governance standards is the example it sets for the local market. And I think that is a very critical role that a company like ours can play," Mr Smith told a CPA Australia business breakfast on Tuesday.

"There is zero tolerance for that sort of behaviour, absolutely."

Fairfax Media has reported allegations of massive kickbacks in Iraq and several major corruption allegations involving Leighton's international business in Malaysia, Indonesia, India and elsewhere. Leighton has denied wrongdoing.

Ross Garnaut, former ambassador to China, said companies which resorted to corrupt payments were "just building long-term trouble for themselves".

"If you're going to be successful in the long term in Asia, you'll draw very sharp lines, your employees will know that they will be dismissed if there's any ambiguity in their behaviour," said Professor Garnaut.

David Lamont, chief financial officer at Chinese-backed miner MMG, said facilitation payments had "never started" at MMG.

"We've got a code of conduct that we have had endorsed through the board," he said.

"I think one of the key principles is you've actually got to stick to, what are your ethics and what are the values that you actually have as an organisation?

"And from MMG's perspective, we don't pay facilitation payments, we don't endorse the paying of facilitation payments, and I think if you establish that from day one when you go into a region, you've got a good footing to work from."

Australian Securities and Investments Commission head Greg Medcraft last week warned: "If companies operate in sectors or jurisdictions that are known to have a high risk of bribery, they need to ensure they have appropriate policies in place to mitigate the risk.

"Have the systems and the procedures and the protocols to create a culture where bribery cannot exist."

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