14 June 2023

Oz Minerals self-reporting foreign bribery highlights need for carrot and stick, says anti-corruption experts

The announcement that BHP-owned Oz Minerals has agreed to a $9.3 million settlement, in response to an AFP investigation of foreign bribery to obtain mining rights in Cambodia, shows the need for both a carrot and stick in combatting foreign bribery, says Transparency International Australia.

Oz Minerals Ltd self-reported to the AFP that employees of Oxiana (Cambodia) Limited, a subsidiary that later became a part of the Oz Minerals group, may have bribed foreign officials to obtain mining rights in Cambodia between November 2006 and October 2009.

The company cooperated with the AFP criminal investigation and entered into a settlement that benefits which may have been derived from the conduct that led to the acquisition of the mining rights should be confiscated.  When officials are bribed by Australian companies working in international jurisdictions, local communities lose their share of their nation’s wealth, the cohesion of their communities, and the health of their environments.

Clancy Moore, CEO of Transparency International Australia, made the following comments:

“The mining, oil and gas sector is the most corrupt prone economic sector. What’s more, one in four corruption cases in the sector take place in the license phase of the value chain. The cooperation by Oz Minerals is to be commended and shows a commitment to responsible business conduct and business integrity.”

“The case also shows the importance of asset confiscation laws and why the government should take a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to combatting foreign bribery.”

“This should include a Deferred Prosecution Agreement scheme in current amendments being proposed to the Crimes Legislation. Such a scheme would further incentivise companies to self-report and, importantly, should not be a get out of jail free card.”