The Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Legislation Bill is set to implement changes to New Zealand’s legislation on bribery and corruption. It is timely considering that a recent survey has highlighted the growing threat in New Zealand.
The survey findings
While New Zealand has a good reputation for being one of the least corrupt countries in the world, it is important not to get complacent. Deloitte conducted a survey across 269 organisations in New Zealand, and released the results on 26 March 2015. 23% of respondents reported experiencing one or more known instances of domestic corruption. 34% of organisations operating offshore experienced one or more instances of foreign corruption. Both these figures have increased since the last survey conducted by Deloitte in 2012. This highlights the need for organisations to remain vigilant and ensure they have appropriate compliance programmes in place. It is also a timely reminder for the government about the need to enact the changes proposed in the Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Legislation Bill.
Changes to legislation
The Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Legislation Bill was introduced to parliament in June 2014. It has passed its first reading and is currently awaiting a report from the Law and Order Select Committee. The key anti-corruption changes introduced in the Bill are:
- Increasing penalties for bribery and corruption in the private sector to bring them into line with public sector bribery offences, with the maximum penalty being a term of imprisonment of 7 years;
- Updating the definition of dishonesty to ensure that those convicted of corruption offences cannot hold positions of trust in the community,
- Revising the foreign bribery offence, including clarifying the circumstances in which a corporation is liable for foreign bribery;
- Creating new offences to address gaps in New Zealand’s anti-corruption framework; and
- Ensuring that New Zealand can provide international assistance in corruption investigations and prosecutions.
The Bill will allow New Zealand to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which it has been a signatory to since 2003. The explanatory note to the Bill states that the Bill will bring New Zealand into line with international best practice in relation to anti-corruption legislation.