Facing Bribery Charges in NSW? Here’s What You Need to Know
Bribery is a serious offence that can have severe repercussions in New South Wales. It is considered a corrupt act and attracts heavy penalties. Several charges can be brought against a person caught engaging in bribery. For instance, offering a bribe, accepting one, demanding it, or receiving it can result in criminal liability. The laws surrounding bribery in NSW are strict and aim to maintain the integrity of public officials and businesses.
If you are accused of bribery, it is essential to seek legal advice to understand the charges against you and how to navigate the legal process. Knowing the ins and outs of bribery laws can help prevent you from facing severe legal and financial consequences.
Different Forms of Bribery That Can Lead to Criminal Offences
There are various forms of bribery, some of which may not seem obvious at first glance. For example, some individuals may resort to ‘favouritism’ or ‘nepotism,’ which involves giving preferential treatment based on personal relationships. Meanwhile, others may engage in ‘kickbacks,’ which involve offering something in exchange for business.
Another type of bribery is ‘patronage,’ whereby someone offers something of value to a person in authority to obtain a position or promotion. Ultimately, it is crucial to recognise that bribery can occur in many different forms, and one must remain vigilant to prevent it from occurring in all aspects of society.
Example of bribery offences and charges in NSW
Several newsworthy bribery and corruption cases in New South Wales have been reported in recent years. In 2018, the Former Sydney Water executive was charged with bribing a contractor for $90,000 to secure a job for his son-in-law. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a maximum of three years in jail.
Similarly, in 2017, a former Minister of State and her husband were accused of offering bribes worth $100,000 to local business owners to promote their interests. Both were found guilty and fined heavily.
The most notorious case is that of the former NSW Premier Eddie Obeid, who was convicted of misconduct in public office for using his political influence to gain lucrative business deals. He received a maximum prison term of five years, with three suspended.
These examples demonstrate the seriousness with which the Australian legal system approaches bribery offences and reinforces the need for individuals to take all allegations seriously.
What the prosecutor must prove
In New South Wales, a prosecutor must prove that a defendant has committed the offence of bribery beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes demonstrating that the accused intended to influence or alter the outcome of an event or decision through improper means, such as offering money, gifts or other benefits.
The prosecutor must also provide evidence that proves the defendant’s actions were illegal under Australian law.
This may include showing that the person offered or accepted a bribe in return for some form of preferential treatment.
Furthermore, they must demonstrate that the accused was aware of their duty to act in good faith and without taking advantage of their position for personal gain. Finally, the prosecutor must clearly show how any financial benefit or other material advantage obtained by offering or accepting a bribe was not legally acquired.
Penalties for Those Found Guilty of Bribery in NSW
Bribery is a serious offence, and the consequences of being found guilty in New South Wales can be severe. Penalties for bribery can include large fines, imprisonment, or both.
If someone tries to bribe a public official, they can face up to seven years of imprisonment and fines of up to $220,000. However, the charges can escalate to a ten-year prison term if the offender uses corrupt conduct to influence public officials or politicians. In addition, the officers who receive the bribe can also face significant charges, including four years imprisonment and up to $40,000 in fines.
The state’s anti-corruption body, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), takes all bribery allegations seriously and investigates every such case to uphold integrity and maintain public confidence. Therefore, it is vital to know the ramifications that bribery charges can bring to avoid getting into such trouble.
How You Can Defend Yourself Against a Bribery Charge in NSW
Bribery charges are serious criminal offences and can carry severe penalties if convicted. If you have been charged with bribery in New South Wales, you must understand your rights and how to defend yourself against the charges.
The first step is to seek legal advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer who will assess the case against you and advise on the best course of action.
There are a range of defences that can be used to challenge a bribery charge, including:
- Lack of knowledge or consent: It must be established that you were aware of the nature of the bribery transaction and willingly consented to it. If you did not know what was happening or had no knowledge of any payment, then this may be used as a defence.
- Invalid consent: In some cases, it may be argued that your consent was invalid because it was obtained under duress or threat or done out of fear for personal safety or wellbeing. If evidence suggests this, then this could be used as a defence.
- Innocent agency refers to situations where someone else offered or accepted a bribe on your behalf without your knowledge or consent. You must provide evidence to support this claim, including testimony from witnesses about conversations between those involved in the transaction.
- Statutory exceptions: If certain statutory exceptions in place would make the act legal, then this could form your defence argument. For example, some activities, such as political donations, may exempt certain people from liability for bribes if they follow certain regulations and procedures.
It is also possible that procedural errors were made during the investigation, which could lead to charges being dropped completely or reduced in severity for sentencing purposes.
Your lawyer will look over all available evidence and interview relevant parties to see if any mistakes were made which could affect the outcome of your case.