Reserve governor Glenn Stevens.
RESERVE Bank governor Glenn Stevens has admitted his deputy was told in writing of corruption inside the bank’s operations in 2007, two years before the scandal became public and the bank called in federal police.
But the Reserve is refusing to release the written briefing or the legal advice it says it relied on when it decided not to report alleged corruption to police.
Mr Stevens told the federal parliamentary economics committee yesterday that deputy governor Ric Battelino, who retired this month, was told in writing about corruption in the Reserve’s currency firm, Note Printing
Australia (NPA). The briefing was written by an unnamed NPA employee and admissions made by NPA’s Malaysian and Nepalese agents that they had paid bribes on behalf of the firm.
Last year federal police charged NPA with bribing officials in Malaysia and Nepal as part of a criminal inquiry that began in 2009 after revelations in The Age. NPA is fully owned by the Reserve Bank and overseen by serving and former Reserve senior officials.
The Age revealed last October that Reserve Bank officials were told in 2007 about the corrupt conduct involving NPA’s overseas agents, but sought to cover it up instead of alerting police.
Retiring deputy governor Ric Battelino
Under questioning from Liberal MP Tony Smith yesterday, Mr Stevens initially told the committee the bank had received no written briefing on corruption inside NPA and that concerns raised in 2007 were only verbal and inconclusive.
Mr Stevens also denied claims that Reserve officials engaged in a cover-up.
But after Mr Smith pressed him on the bribery scandal, Mr Stevens conceded his earlier evidence was wrong and that the Reserve had been advised in writing of corruption concerns in 2007. ‘So far 10 former banknote executives have been charged.
NPA’s sister company, Securency, which is half-owned by the Reserve, is also facing bribery charges. At the time of the alleged bribery, both companies were chaired by former Reserve deputy governor Graeme Thompson.