Are you prepared for the National Anti-Corruption Commission?

August 30, 2023

This post explains the new National Anti-Corruption Commission and how it compares to the integrity framework in Tasmania.

What is the NACC?

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC)will have the power to investigate and publish findings in relation to corruption within the Federal public sector.

Importantly for the private sector, the NACC will have the power to investigate private people, and companies and their directors, officers and employees in relation to any conduct that does, or could, adversely affect the honest or impartial exercise or performance of a Commonwealth public official’s powers, functions or duties.

The NACC’s other powers include to commence investigations independently, to override legal professional privilege and privilege against self-incrimination in the process of compelling documents or oral testimonies, and to refer criminal matters to the AFP.

The powers of the NACC apply retrospectively, meaning investigations can be carried out on conduct which occurred prior to the Commission commencing operations on the 1 July 2023.

How do the NACC’s powers compare to the Tasmanian Integrity Commission?

Tasmania has its own anti-corruption commission, called the Tasmanian Integrity Commission. However, there are a few key differences between the Tasmanian Integrity Commission and the NACC to be aware of:

  1. Clearly, it only applies to corruption within the Tasmanian public sector, rather than within the Federal Public Sector. 
  2. The Tasmanian Integrity Commission only has the power to investigate State public sector officials and cannot investigate private entities or private sector individuals, unlike the NACC, which can conduct investigations into the private sector in relation to Federal corruption.
  3. An investigation by the NACC can include public hearings in “exceptional circumstances” and where the Commissioner deems it is in the “public interest” to do so. This carries risk of reputational harm for companies and their officers who are involved in an investigation. While the Tasmanian Integrity Commission can publicly investigate matters at the discretion of its CEO, this has never happened as of the date of this article.

How to prepare for the NACC?

With the commencement of the NACC, it is important to ensure that anti-corruption policies and internal governance mechanisms are up to date and equipped to meet legal requirements. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your company conforms with best practices:

  1. Review internal anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies to ensure they comply with legal requirements.
  2. Review anti-bribery and corruption clauses in your company’s contracts to address potential investigations by the NACC.
  3. Encourage reporting of corruption through internal and external reporting mechanisms and whistleblower channels.
  4. Conduct anti-corruption training sessions for employees to inform them of the NACC’s powers and any possible implications for those who engage with the Federal government or its officers. This could include raising awareness around engaging with government officials in relation to business opportunities, including giving or receiving gifts.
  5. Have a plan in place in case your organisation is compelled to produce documents for a NACC investigation.

This article includes general information only and is not specific to your situation.

If you require assistance in relation to anything contained in this article including any specific incident, the review of existing policies or contracts, or the provision of employee training sessions, please contact us.

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Tim Cannon


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