The supply of, and the technology for producing, plastic currency are a big business for the Reserve Bank of Australia. Plastic currency is now used by 23 countries around the world. But it is also apparent that Australian parties have been involved in bribing high officials in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam (at least) in securing contracts for plastic currency. The Australian courts are apparently cooperating in some form of cover-up.
That has become apparent from the Wikileaks release of a gagging order by the Supreme Court of Victoria at Melbourne where the court forbids
any discloures, by publication or otherwise, of any information relating to the court case by anyone, including the Australian media, ensuring complete secrecy around the largest corruption case in Australia. The order also forbids any disclosures about the order itself, and specifically commands no mention be made of the affirmed affidavit submitted to the court by Gillian Bird, a career diplomat, currently appointed as a deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Bird is one of Australia’s most senior and experienced diplomats and is responsible for relations with South East Asia which is why her affidavit, currently held sealed by the court, is so important.
Not only a gagging order but also a gag on revealing the gag!
For such a blanket gagging order to have been issued suggests that some “big” names – both at home and abroad but probably mainly abroad – are running a little scared of embarrassment or something worse.
My “rule of thumb” is that in corruption cases of this sort about 3 – 4% of the contract value will find its way into the hands of individuals (officials/politicians) in the buying country and that from this amount about ½- 1% of the contract value will be channeled back to individuals in the selling organisation. The 3% is an important number since it is what is unofficially accepted as being acceptable as legitimate facilitation costs for selling by OECD rules. If bribes can be held to less than about 3% (including the kick-back to the kick-back), the contract can usually escape too much scrutiny.
Plastic currency is one of the few areas where Australian technology leads the world. As such it provides a very valuable source of revenue (and prestige) for the RBA.
Currently seven Australians have been charged in an ongoing $17 million corruption case:
SMH: A seventh Australian man has been charged over an alleged $17 million banknotes bribery scandal engulfing companies related to Australia’s central bank.
Clifford John Gerathy, 60, of Maroubra, in south-eastern Sydney, faced Melbourne Magistrates Court in Melbourne on Wednesday.
A former Securency sales manager, Gerathy faces two charges of conspiring to bribe a foreign official and falsifying documents in connection to the scandal involving currency contracts.
Before Gerathy appeared in court, the Australian Federal Police said it would be alleged he facilitated payments of $17.2 million in commissions to an agent in Vietnam and falsified accounts in relation to a contract in Malaysia. ……
Gerathy will next appear in court on September 23 with his co-accused, all six of whom are from Victoria. The others charged with bribes allegedly paid to secure banknote contracts are Myles Curtis, 55, John Leckenby, 66, Mitchell John Anderson, 50, Peter Sinclair Hutchinson, 61, Barry Thomas Brady, 62, and Rognvald Leslie Marchant, 64.
They all seem to have been represented for the gagging order hearing in front of the Hounarable Justice Hollingworth.
Australia was the first country to use plastic currency using technology developed jointly by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). In 1996, RBA and Belgian multinational Union Chimique Belge (UCB) formed a joint venture, Securency Pty Ltd, to service demand for the polymer technology.
CSIRO: ……. polymer and synthetic chemistry was used to develop a non-fibrous and non-porous plastic film, which the banknotes are printed on. This substrate gives high tear initiation resistance, good fold characteristics and a longer lifetime than paper.
The substrate and the specially-developed protective overcoat prevent the absorption of moisture, sweat and grime so that the polymer banknotes stay cleaner.
CSIRO has also developed a variety of overt and covert security features for use on polymer banknotes. These security features are produced from a combination of spectroscopic techniques, synthetic chemistry, nanotechnology, surface science microstructure manipulation and polymer chemistry. …
….. Currently there are over thirty different denominations totalling some 3 billion polymer notes in service in 22 countries worldwide.
In addition, a press-ready polymer substrate (Guardian™) is available for countries with their own note printing facilities.
Guardian™ is produced by Securency Pty Ltd, a joint venture between the Reserve Bank of Australia and Innovia Films PLC, a European-based manufacturer of polypropylene films.
The first Guardian® banknote was issued as a commemorative $10 note in 1988, the year of Australia’s bicentenary, containing both the first transparent window and first hologram of any type, making it the most secure banknote of its time. After being successfully received by the public, the RBA introduced a $5 note for general circulation in 1992 followed by successive notes in the years following. Throughout the 1990s, Guardian® banknote substrate steadily grew in popularity throughout the world, with the innovative polymer-based technology gaining the trust and confidence of more than 30 Central Banks to either adopt Guardian® for use in mainstream denominations or as a commemorative note as a test and forerunner to future use.
In 1996, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and Innovia Films entered into a joint venture to create Securency International, an arrangement that was concluded in February 2013 when Innovia acquired the RBA’s 50% share in the business. The RBA proved an outstanding partner in helping Securency establish itself in the global banknote industry during a period in which some of the world’s most successful companies including 3M and Mobil also attempted to enter the banknote substrate market but were unable to do so.