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Commissions approved by RBA deputy: witness

Maris Beck  Sydney Morning Herald   October 17, 2012

FORMER Reserve Bank deputy governor Graeme Thompson authorised some of the payments at the centre of a corruption prosecution, a star witness has told court.

The evidence was provided in a statement by former Securency company secretary David John Ellery, tendered in the committal of eight former bank company executives on charges of conspiracy to bribe or false accounting.

Mr Ellery said in his statement: ''I have walked into [one of the accused, former Securency managing director Myles] Curtis' office whilst he's been on a conversation on the phone with Thompson and I have heard him say words to the effect [of] 'we've agreed to pay this percentage commission'. As a result, I believed agents were being discussed outside of the board meeting up to the level of chairman.''

Mr Ellery said Securency's board of directors authorised payments that the prosecution alleges were intended to bribe foreign officials. He said in his statement that in late 2007 or early 2008, ''I received explicit instruction from the Securency board to delete the clause which related to the inspection of agents' books … [with one director stating] it was not in Securency's interests to know how agents spent their commissions.''

When Mr Ellery took the witness stand on Monday, he asked for a letter protecting him against further criminal prosecution on the basis of his testimony. He had been charged with false accounting over the affair but told the court he held concerns about further investigation by ASIC. The corporate watchdog refused to investigate, despite referral from police.

And police have never interviewed Mr Thompson, who was formerly a deputy governor of the Reserve Bank and was dual chairman of the bank's note-printing companies during the period of the alleged offences.

Mr Ellery said in his statement in relation to alleged bribes paid to agents: ''The actual board minutes resolved that these payments were to be made.''

Mr Ellery said in his statement that Mr Curtis had asked lawyers how to terminate the employment of whistleblower Mark Ingram. ''When I saw Curtis again, he informed [me] that he'd spoken to Graeme Thompson about the termination and that the decision had been made to terminate Ingram during his probationary period on work performance basis … At that time, I knew that those reasons were incorrect.''

Under cross-examination by barrister Jason Gullaci for Mr Curtis, Mr Ellery said he had never been told that agent payments were used to pay bribes and he had not believed at the time that the company was doing anything illegal.

He had formed that view later, he said, after considering what he knew, reading media reports and speaking to police.

Mr Thompson declined to comment last night. The committal continues.

Last modified onTuesday, 28 May 2013 09:23

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