Central Banks, The Veil Of Secrecy, A Hotbed of Corruption, And Now Another One Got Ensnared
Central banks are designed to be “independent,” and they shroud themselves in secrecy. But they have formidable and, when it comes to money, “unlimited” powers that they harness for the benefit of their clientele, banks. And hiding behind their veil of secrecy are shenanigans that rarely seep to the surface, but when they do, they just get worse and worse. And the latest is a sordid bribery and kickback scandal at the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) that appeared to be neatly contained to two subsidiaries, until now.
Securency International Pty Ltd, jointly owned by the RBA and Innovia Films, develops polymer materials for Australia’s banknote technology used in 27 countries. Note Printing Australia (NPA), a wholly owned subsidiary of the RBA, manufactures polymer banknotes. In May 2009, Age newspaper broke the scandal: eight former executives of Securency and NPA had paid millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to officials in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia between 1999 and 2004 through middlemen, including a Malaysian arms dealer, in order to win contracts for manufacturing bank notes. Forced to deal with the ruckus, Securency asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate.
In July 2011, finally, after two years of foot-dragging, and after international pressure to do something, the Federal Police arrested six former executives of Securency and NPA—Australia’s first prosecution under its foreign bribery laws.