Corruption risks and ways to combat them in the mining approval process assessed in 18 countries


5 December – Transparency International is launching a new report based on research in 18 resource-rich countries from Australia to Zimbabwe that identifies systemic corruption risks in mining licencing and permitting processes and highlights what can be done to help prevent corruption infiltrating licencing processes.

Combatting corruption in mining approvals: assessing the risks in 18 resource-rich countries, is the first in depth study to look at the very start of the mining process, when decisions are made about whether, where, and under what circumstances mining is permitted. It is based on research carried out by Transparency International in a diverse range of countries involving stakeholders from civil society, multilateral organisations, the mining industry and governments.

The results show that corruption risks exist in mining approvals regimes of countries across the globe, irrespective of the country’s stage of economic development, political context, geographic region, or the size and maturity of their mining sectors.

“Natural resources are too often vulnerable to corruption. We see this across the world as citizens are denied the wealth that is part of their natural heritage. We want all parties – citizens, governments and mining companies – to be able to undertake sustainable development that benefits everyone. The goal of this work is to lead to a greater understanding of corruption risks in the mining approvals process so that corruption can be countered at the very start of the process,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair, Transparency International.

The report is published by Transparency International’s Mining for Sustainable Development Programme (M4SD) led by Transparency International Australia. It is based on research carried out by Transparency International national chapters in Armenia, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Mongolia, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“By understanding the corruption risks faced in diverse jurisdictions, we are in a better position than ever to work towards ensuring mining contributes to sustainable development.Transparency International Australia will continue to lead this initiative, engaging with our extensive network of stakeholders to drive the change that is so very needed,” said Serena Lillywhite, Chief Executive Officer, Transparency International Australia.

The report is based around a series of questions that help identify where and how an approvals regime is vulnerable to corruption. The answers to these questions target the underlying causes of corruption and inform key players on how to take effective preventative action before corruption occurs.

The report serves as a useful guide to lawmakers and regulators, companies and civil society organisations – regardless of their location – to assess and enhance the transparency, accountability and integrity of the mining approvals regime in their own countries. It can be used as a foundation for these different groups to identify priority areas of work at national and jurisdictional level, and take action to prevent corruption from occurring.

The research identified 140 distinct types of corruption risks and more than 750 stakeholders from a range of sectors were involved. A further 250 individuals participated in validation and review of the risk assessments.

This multi-country study used the Mining Awards Corruption Risk Assessment (MACRA) Tool, specially developed for Transparency International. With a list of common corruption risks, this tool shows users how to identify and assess the underlying causes of corruption that need to be addressed to safeguard the lawful, compliant and ethical awarding of mining sector licences, permits and contracts. Following extensive user testing, Transparency International is releasing an updated version of the MACRA Tool alongside the report.

Note to editors

M4SD is a global thematic network initiative, implemented by Transparency International Australia and supported by the Transparency International Secretariat. The programme is funded in Phase I by the BHP Billiton Foundation and the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).The next phase of M4SD will see national chapters develop and implement action plans to prevent the corruption risks identified in this research.

Julius Hinks (Berlin)
T: +49 30 34 38 20 666

Alexia Skok (Melbourne)
T: +61 422 433 162

CBA’s Historic $700M Fine Highlights the Need to Include Money Laundering in the Scope of Banking Royal Commission

On 4 June 2018 CBA reached a settlement with AUSTRAC, agreeing to pay a fine of $700 million plus legal costs over serious and systemic failures to report suspicious deposits, transfers and accounts. CBA admitted to the late filing of 53,506 reports of transactions of $10,000 or more through its “intelligent deposit machines” (IDMs).


Watch Transparency International Australia’s CEO Serena Lillywhite comment on the case in ABC News:

Video: ABC New Channel


In her interview, Serena Lillywhite says that although the fine falls far short of the theoretical maximum penalty (nearing one trillion dollars), it is the largest ever civil penalty in Australian corporate history and thus sends a strong signal to the banking sector.


While it is encouraging that CBA has admitted that it has breached the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Laws, this case shows that it is still way too easy to launder money in Australia. IDMs (ATMs that instead of giving out withdrawals take in deposits) are not the only weak point in the Australian system – Transparency International’s report Doors Wide Open shows that the Australian real estate market is vulnerable to money laundering through anonymous property purchases.


The immense scale of the CBA case and its impact on the public trust in the financial sector highlights an omission in the scope of the Banking Royal Commission – it does not currently cover money laundering. Transparency International Australia recommends extending the scope of the Commission to cover this critical aspect of Australia’s financial integrity system.


TIA CEO discussed the CBA case on the World Today, along with Austrac CEO Nicole Rose, and Professor Jason Sharman from Cambridge University. The broadcast is available on the ABC website and below.


Media Release: A Federal Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission on the Horizon

30 January 2018

‘A Federal Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission on the Horizon’

Transparency International Australia welcomes the pledge today by the Hon Bill Shorten MP, that Labor will establish a federal anti-corruption body if it wins the next election.

Transparency International Australia, is part of a global coalition to fight corruption and promote transparency, integrity and accountability at all levels and across all sectors of society, including in government. This work has included years of campaigning to strengthen Australia’s integrity systems, and repeated calls, to all political parties, to establish a federal ant-corruption agency.

“With growing public distrust of government, and most Australians holding a view there is corruption in federal politics, a well-resourced independent National Integrity Commission to promote integrity and accountability, and to prevent, investigate and expose corruption, is a matter of urgency and has overwhelming public support”, said Transparency International Australia CEO, Serena Lillywhite.

“Australia needs a well-designed, broad-based federal anti-corruption agency, as part of an enhanced multi-agency strategy, to ensure a comprehensive approach to corruption risks beyond the criminal investigation system, and to support stronger parliamentary integrity”, she said.

“Effective institutions to prevent, detect, expose and remedy official corruption are vital at all levels of government.  The absence of an overarching agency of this type at a federal level is a stark deficiency in the eyes of the community”, said Lillywhite.

Transparency International Australia has made clear its view that a federal anti-corruption agency needs to possess the wide range of coercive and investigative powers commonly found in state agencies, including public hearings in proper situations to assist inquiry effectiveness and public interest, essential to the effective operation of an anti-corruption agency.

“Anti-corruption agencies must have the power to make such public findings and recommendations, to ensure that Governments act to remedy corruption, in circumstances where powerful interests may have previously prevented this from occurring, or the Government itself is implicated”, said Anthony Whealy, QC, Chair of Transparency International Australia.

“Mechanisms and resources need to be in place to ensure that when corruption problems are identified, appropriate sanctions or remedies are actually implemented, and in a timely and visible way. For criminal matters, the Commission should be empowered to make findings of fact, and to be referred to a well-resourced and specialized unit within the DPP, for consideration for prosecution”, he said.

The issue of ‘revolving doors’ and ‘conflict of interest’ can no longer be ignored in Australia.

In 2017, Transparency International Australia undertook research into the mining approvals process in Australia. The report, Corruption Risks: Mining Approvals in Australia has identified a high potential for industry influence and state and policy capture in the awarding of mining approvals and related infrastructure projects.

“Greater regulation of political donations, lobbyists and the movement of staff between government and industry, would help reduce risks that can enable corruption to occur. ‘Revolving doors’ and a ‘culture of mateship’ are undermining our national integrity systems and could be tackled by a federal integrity and anti-corruption agency”, said Lillywhite.

A commitment to establish a such an agency is welcome, but as always, the devil is in the detail.

Transparency International Australia and Griffith University’s National Integrity Systems Assessment, will provide the rigorous evidence base to illuminate a detailed design for a federal integrity and anti-corruption agency. At the end of the day, the independence, resources, and investigative powers of such an agency, will be its make or break.

For further information please contact:

Serena Lillywhite, CEO, Transparency International Australia

0403 436 896

See Transparency International Australia’s work with Griffith University on the National Integrity Systems Assessment



Corruption and Real Estate in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US

A Transparency International report released on 30 March 2017 said that the governments of Australia, Canada, the UK and the US need to close glaring legal loopholes to prevent the corrupt elite from laundering the proceeds of grand corruption in their local real estate markets.

The impact of overseas investment in Australia’s real estate is not limited to elevating home prices.  There is clear evidence that such investment in Australian property is also an easy and convenient way to hide hundreds of millions of dollars from criminal investigators, tax authorities or others tracking criminal behaviour and the proceeds of crime.

In a report released today Doors Wide Open Corruption and Real Estate in Four Key Markets, in advance of the Anniversary of the release of the Panama Papers, Transparency International calls on the Governments of Australia, Canada, UK and USA to close the legal loopholes to prevent the corrupt elite from laundering the proceeds of grand corruption in their local real estate markets.

READ MORE in the TI Australia press release

TI Australia supports the creation of a central new corporate register

TI Australia supports the creation of a central new corporate register to record beneficial ownership information. It submits that:

  • The new corporate register should be publicly available (open access) to increase opportunities for the public to verify and provide information and that the beneficial ownership information should be free of charge.
  • The central new corporate register could be maintained by either AUSTRAC or ASIC due to those agencies’ ability to collect information and to enforce against companies that fail to report information.
  • If there is any difficulty with defining the “beneficial owner” of a company, the definition of “beneficial owner” from Australia’s anti-money laundering framework should be preferred.

TI Australia acknowledges that there may be obstacles in implementing the central new corporate register including ensuring that trusts would duly report beneficial ownership information and ensuring that accurate information is collected and verified.

However, in light of the need for greater transparency, Australia cannot, nor should it, afford to wait for the perfect system before the central new corporate register is implemented. There is value and a need to have a central new corporate register of beneficial ownership in Australia – similar to the United Kingdom’s register of ‘People with Significant Control’ – such a register could be implemented in progressive stages ensuring that the system would continuously improve.

Taking these first steps to implement a central new corporate register would ensure that Australia complies with its international commitments to increase transparency and could have a beneficial flow on effect to minimising corruption and tackling illicit financial activities.

Click here to read TI Australia’s Submission on Increasing transparency of the beneficial ownership of companies.

National Integrity Summit opens the discussion on reform

TI Australia’s first biennial conference, National Integrity 2017, wrapped up on Friday 17 March. It brought together 160 government, business and civil society delegates from all corners of Australia, including senior legal figures, heads of integrity agencies, federal, state and local parliamentarians, community groups, corporate leaders and individual TI Australia members.

Our thanks to everyone for two days of stimulating discussion on all we value, and all we need to strengthen in Australia’s integrity systems!

Read more here including a new discussion paper: ‘A Federal Anti-Corruption Agency for Australia?’ arising from the conference. Subscribe to the TI Australia mailing list for more updates on our next National Integrity System assessment and future events, including the 2019 conference.

Queensland Integrity Commissioner, Richard Bingham, ANZ Banking Group’s Guy Boyd, the Crime & Corruption Commission’s Dr Rebecca Denning and Professor Janet Ransley of Griffith University talk corruption prevention at National Integrity 2017.

900 million people in Asia Pacific are paying bribes – a huge challenge for Australian business

The most recent TI Australia media release notes that:

Approximately 900 million — or just over one in four — people living in 16 countries in Asia Pacific, including some of its biggest economies are estimated to have paid a bribe to access public services, according to a new public opinion poll from the anti-corruption movement Transparency International.

Transparency International spoke to nearly 22,000 people about their recent experiences with corruption for People and Corruption: Asia Pacific, part of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) series.

Click here to read more

Australians lead worldwide support for political donations reform

Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer (GCB), the world’s largest survey on public experience of corruption, has revealed that Australians’ biggest concerns are about secret backroom deals between business and government – and that they’re the strongest proponents of banning corporate political donations. Click here for detailed GCB results for Australia.

These clear-cut results from Transparency International’s 2016-2017 Global Corruption Barometer come the day Queensland’s new online donation disclosure system went live – an Australian first – and two weeks ahead of the National Integrity 2017 Conference.

Read detailed commentary in TI Australia’s media release.