Australia has established its deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) scheme which will enable prosecutors and firms suspected of wrong doing to negotiate settlements instead of going through the trial process, said the Ministry of Justice.
Under a DPA, firms would have to abide by certain conditions, such as payment of a financial penalty and implementation of a compliance program.
A company would also not be prosecuted in relation to the matters outlined in the DPA where the company fulfills its obligations under the agreement.
DPA’s usually cover economic crimes such as false accounting, foreign bribery and money laundering.
Similar schemes have been used to address corporate crime and culture issues in both the United States and the United Kingdom, where for example, Roll Royce in both countries agreed to pay out millions.
Experts anticipate having a DPA model in Australia would result in a focus on cooperation and self-reporting from investigating authorities.
Corporate crime is estimated to cost Australia more than $8.5 billion each year.
The reforms remove “undue barriers to successful investigations and prosecutions and strengthens offences for companies operating offshore,” the Justice Ministry said.
In addition to DPAs, Australia’s Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combating Corporate Crime) Bill 2017 will enhance anti-bribery legislation.
This will see Australian firms held liable for bribery committed by their employees and contractors under new laws passed by the Coalition government.
“Australian law enforcement agencies face significant challenges in detecting and responding to foreign bribery,” said a Ministry of Justice statement, “it is inherently challenging to investigate – there is often no readily identifiable victim, evidence is often offshore, and bribes can be concealed in legitimate business transactions.