The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has received a $15 million funding boost from confiscated proceeds of crime to expand teams dealing with offshore bribery.
The funding will cover three years and support 18 current investigations by the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre – a branch of the AFP focused on fraud and corruption.
Permanent representatives from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Australian Crime Commission are based within it, but there will be 26 new positions supported by the funding boost.
“We need clean, open and efficient markets for economies and societies to thrive,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.
“Corruption tips the export and investment playing field against our best and most efficient firms and undermines democratic institutions and stability.”
Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said Australia was consistently ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, with corruption offences attracting punishments of 10 years behind bars or fines of up to $1.8 million for Australians caught and prosecuted.
“Taking action against bribery and corporate corruption is an ongoing task,” he said.
Of the anti-corruption team’s 18 active investigations, four had been referred to the commonwealth DPP and two were before the court.
Mr Turnbull said the power of the multi-agency response was highlighted by the ATO’s recent success identifying more than 800 Australians who were linked to the leaked Panama papers.
About 80 were matched to names appearing in the crime commission’s database of serious and organised crime.