Australia's foreign bribery law amendments - what you need to know

Australia's foreign bribery law amendments - what you need to know

Australia’s efforts to combat foreign bribery have reached a significant milestone with the passing of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Foreign Bribery) Bill 2023. This marks the most significant overhaul of the country’s foreign bribery laws in nearly three decades, signalling Australia’s strong commitment to tackling corruption on the global stage.

Passed by the Australian Senate on 29 February 2024, the Combatting Foreign Bribery Bill (CFB) introduces expanded offences and stricter penalties for corporations involved in bribery activities abroad.

Critical aspects of the legislation 

The enactment of the CFB Bill brings about several new amendments, including;

Introduction of a new corporate offence

Companies can now be held accountable for failing to prevent foreign bribery acts carried out by their associates. However, companies can rely on a statutory defence against relevant offences committed, provided they can demonstrate they implemented ‘adequate procedures’ (see below) to prevent instances of foreign bribery by associates.

Simplified burden of proof

Prosecutors will no longer need to establish direct influence on a public official as a result of a bribe or other advantage. It will be sufficient evidence that the individual offering the benefit intended to influence the public official.

Expanded scope of offences

The definition of foreign bribery now includes candidates for public office, not just current officeholders.

The penalties of foreign bribery

If a body corporate is found to be liable for an offence of foreign bribery, it will face significant penalties, including: 

  • 100,000 penalty units (equivalent to $31.3 million as of 1 July 2023)
  • Penalties of three times the value of the benefit directly received or indirectly obtained through bribery

Additional penalties of up to 10 per cent of the corporation’s annual turnover if the court cannot determine the value of the benefit acquired.

In addition to the financial penalties outlined above, an organisation also risks reputational and brand damage through any offences committed or alleged.

How should I prepare for the effect of the CFB Bill? 

Companies have a six-month window after royal assent to prepare for the impact of the CFB Bill. While the Attorney-General’s Department is yet to publish updated guidelines on what constitutes ‘adequate procedures’ for companies to put in place, we anticipate they could resemble previous guidance published in 2019. These procedures may include: 

  • Undertaking detailed risk assessments
  • Enhancing due diligence activities related to bribery risk
  • Developing and promoting anti-bribery policies
  • Provision of training specific to anti-bribery measures 
  • Reporting mechanisms for bribery risk 
  • Continuous monitoring and review of anti-bribery policies and procedures.

How can BDO support you? 

Whether your entity already complies with the CFB Bill requirements, is preparing for its effects, or is just beginning its anti-bribery control journey, we can help ensure your approach meets both your obligations and expected standards to protect your company’s integrity.

If you would like to learn more about how our experienced team can support you, please contact us or review our Forensic Services offering to find out more.


This article has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms and should be seen as broad guidance only. The article cannot be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act, or refrain from acting, upon the information contained therein without obtaining specific professional advice. Please contact the BDO member firms in Australia to discuss these matters in the context of your particular circumstances. BDO Australia Ltd and each BDO member firm in Australia, their partners and/or directors, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone in reliance on the information in this publication or for any decision based on it.