Ensuring greater compliance with corporate law is the focus of a draft Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) Scheme Code of Practice, released today for consultation.
"Australian law enforcement and prosecuting agencies face unique challenges in addressing corporate crime," the Attorney-General said.
"Corporate crime can be difficult to identify and easy to conceal. The DPA scheme gives prosecutors and investigators an extra tool they can use to hold companies to account for serious corporate crime.
"At the same time, the scheme will help encourage corporations to self-report misconduct and cooperate with authorities."
Under the scheme, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) would be able to offer corporations alleged to have committed certain serious corporate crimes the opportunity to negotiate an agreement to comply with a range of specified conditions.
These conditions could include a requirement to pay a financial penalty, compensate any victims, improve a compliance program and cooperate in other investigations and prosecutions.
If the company fulfils the conditions of the DPA, it will not be prosecuted for the offences specified in the DPA.
"Similar schemes have been used to great effect in the UK and the USA," the Attorney-General said.
"For example, in 2017 Rolls Royce agreed to a DPA in the UK requiring the payment of a penalty of £497.25 million.
"This draft Code I am releasing today provides detailed information on the practical operation of the scheme, including the likely terms of a DPA and the circumstances in which the CDPP might consider offering a company a DPA."
The Attorney-General said the Code would complement the existing legislative framework contained in the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Corporate Crime) Bill 2017, which is currently before Parliament.
The Government is seeking views from the community to ensure that the Code provides effective guidance on the proposed scheme. Feedback provided throughout this consultation process will inform the finalisation of the Code prior to publication.
The draft Code is available online at www.ag.gov.au. Submissions to this consultation process must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5:00pm, 9 July