Even as Canada makes plans to convert to its currency to polymer bank notes, Australia continues to investigate allegations against the company that developed its plastic money.
An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman recently confirmed that the investigation, launched in May, is still in progress. She could not predict when the probe might conclude.
Craigieburn, Australia-based Securency International Pty. Ltd. called in the AFP after allegations were aired in Melbourne's The Age daily newspaper that the company's overseas agents were paying kickbacks to foreign government officials to secure contracts.
Securency is a joint venture between the federal government's Reserve Bank of Australia and Innovia Films Ltd., a Wigton, England, film maker.
Securency Chairman Bob Rankin, who is also assistant governor of currency for the Reserve Bank, said at the time that the article did not suggest Securency had engaged in bribery, but the board views the allegations as serious.
The board also commissioned Swiss accounting firm KPMG International Cooperative to conduct an investigation, which also is ongoing. As a result of KPMG's preliminary investigations, the board asked the managing director and company secretary to stand aside from their positions, asked KPMG to undertake a case-by-case assessment of every agent arrangement and suspended agents' marketing activities while the investigations continue.
Securency, established in 1996, manufactures a biaxially oriented polypropylene-based polymer substrate used in Australian bank notes as well as notes issued in many other countries. Australia pioneered the introduction of polymer notes. The first, the A$10 note, went into circulation in 1988, with other denominations progressively introduced.
Thirty other countries use the Australian technology, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, China, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Western Samoa, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Zambia.
The bank-note substrate is branded Guardian. Securency produces other substrates suitable for identification cards and high-security documents, like title deeds.
Bruno Garoffolo, Securency's marketing manager, said film for the notes is extruded by the company's 50 percent owner, Innovia. In Australia, they are printed by Note Printing Australia Ltd., a company 100 percent owned by the Reserve Bank. Rankin also chairs NPA, which also prints notes for 17 other countries.
The newspaper article, which named no sources for its allegations, said Securency agents had made commissions to shady middlemen in its drive to win bank-note printing deals with foreign governments.
It said company insiders have raised concerns the company's practices have left it exposed to allegations some commissions could be used to pay kickbacks to foreign government officials.
Securency said at the time it conducted thorough due diligence when appointing agents, including checks by federal government agency Austrade and compliance with international anti-corruption conventions.
Securency said its agents had signed agreements forbidding payments to foreign officials and politicians and it had cut ties with agents in the past if it was not satisfied with their performance.
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