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RBA sells Securency interest

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is selling its 50% stake in money printing firm Securency for $65 million.

Securency has been embroiled in controversy, with some of its agents accused of offering bribes to overseas officials to win note printing contracts. An internal investigation in 2007 found no wrongdoing, but the RBA didn’t bring the Australian Federal Police (AFP) until two years later, in 2009.

Innovia Films, which already owns the other 50% of Securency, is buying the stake from the RBA, which had been looking to sell its share since 2010.

In August last year, RBA governor Glenn Stevens rejected suggestions that senior RBA officials knew of and covered-up allegations of foreign bribery. At the time, Securency senior manager Robing Dearnley claimed bribery was a commonplace practice in the notemaking industry. He told the Australian Financial Review in September 2012 that he had a strong suspicion that Securency was paying bribes from as early as 1999, but felt too junior in his role to come forward for fear of losing his job.

“It was, in my view, common knowledge within Securency and the wider global security printing industry that bribery was a routine and commonplace business practice engaged in by all the players to win business in the world’s more corruption-prone countries,” he said.

Eight former executives of Securency and the Reserve Bank’s subsidiary, Note Printing Australia have been charged with foreign bribery offenses for alleged bribes paid to officials in Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal and some other countries.

Mr Stevens said that in hindsight, he believed it would have been prudent for the RBA to call in police in 2007.

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