Putin once even joked that the bribery system in some parts of Russia is so well known that they were even adjusted for inflation.
In NSW, and the rest of Australia, any kind of bribery involving a person holding public office is a crime. The common law definition of bribery is receiving or offering an undue reward to anyone holding public office.
The bribe could be for a favour in the future, even in a situation that never actually takes place. It is still an offence even if the offer of a bribe is rejected.
Attempts to bribe a Commonwealth official, or attempts of a Commonwealth official to bribe you, are especially serious.
Bribery involving a member of the NSW police is an offence under section 200 of the Police Act 1990. Bribing or attempting to bribe a member of the NSW police force is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $22,000 fine. The same fine applies if a member of the NSW police force seeks or receives a bribe.
Bribery is described by the Police act as involving:
- Giving, offering or promising to give any bribe or benefit to a member of the NSW police force;
- Making any sort of collusive agreement with them in order for the police officer to neglect their duty;
- Influencing the exercise of their functions; or
- Improperly taking advantage of the members position is guilty
Just last month a former footballer was ordered to appear before Balmain Local court in order to face charges of bribery.
When former footballer, John Elias, was allegedly caught with cocaine outside a hotel, according to police, he then attempted to bribe them with $500 to turn a blind eye.
Police allege he was outside the Sackville Hotel in Rozelle when they caught him acting suspiciously. After following him inside he was allegedly found in possession of cocaine and it was apparently at this stage that he attempted to buy off the police.
The official charge was: “corruptly offering to give Constable Tremain a benefit, $500 in Australian currency as an inducement for Constable Tremain not doing anything in relation to the business to not proceed with criminal charges.”
He was charged not only for the possession of cocaine (which carries lower penalties) but of corruptly offering the Constable money.
Elias was ordered to appear before Balmain Local court and the outcome of his case is not yet known.
Elias is not the only high-profile name to be hitting the media or the courts on charges of corruption – Barry O’Farrell was famously caught out after claiming he didn’t receive an expensive bottle of Grange. Several other NSW politicians are also being investigated following allegations of corruption.
Bribing foreign officials is also an area that is increasingly recognised as problematic in Australia – as international commerce and trade expand, so does the potential for trans-border bribery.
However the Australian government penalises those who participate in bribery of an overseas official heavily, as it undermines the reputation of Australian businesses. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, both companies and individuals who participate can be prosecuted either in Australia or overseas.
The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment or a gigantic fine – $1.1 million! For a company, this jumps to either $11 million, three times the value of the benefits that were/would have been obtained by the bribe, or 10 per cent of the company’s previous annual turnover.
While this kind of charge is not the kind that would be heard in a Sydney court like the Balmain Local court house, it does demonstrate the range of bribery charges and the severity of the penalties.