Public Consultation on Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs)

Australia is a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Subsequently, the Australian Government is focused on strengthening enforcement of Australia’s foreign bribery laws. This is a challenge all countries face – evidence is often overseas, and is typically sensitive, as it implicates corrupt government officials.

In order to strengthen Australia’s enforcement of foreign bribery laws, the Australian Government is exploring options to improve the flexibility of the criminal justice system in dealing with investigations and prosecuting foreign bribery cases. One of the options being looked at is a DPAs scheme.

What is a DPA?

A DPA is a voluntary, negotiated settlement between a prosecutor and a defendant. Where a company has engaged in a serious corporate crime, prosecutors would have the option to invite the company to negotiate a DPA, in return for which the prosecution would be deferred. During the deferral period the company has to cooperate with any investigation, pay a financial penalty and implement a program to improve future compliance. For this compliance the company will have the matter resolved without criminal conviction and the prosecution would be discontinued.

Both the UK and the USA use DPAs. Australia does not currently have a DPA scheme and is considering this as an option to encourage greater self-reporting by companies. In light of the Panama Papers scandal this consultation paper is very timely.

Making a Submission

The following consultation paper considers whether a DPA scheme should be introduced in Australia, and if so, how such a scheme could be best structured:

Responses (and any queries) to this consultation paper should be emailed to criminal.law@ag.gov.au no later than close of business – Monday, 2 May 2016*

[*UPDATE: note the last date for responses (and any queries) to this consultation paper is now closed. This article is now posted for reference purposes only.]

Post by Cara McKenna and John Kell 

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