Government investigations—Australia—Q&A guide

The following Public Law practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Government investigations—Australia—Q&A guide
  • 1. What government agencies are principally responsible for the enforcement of civil and criminal laws and regulations applicable to businesses?
  • 2. What is the scope of each agency’s enforcement authority? Can the agencies pursue actions against corporate employees as well as the company itself? Do they typically do this?
  • 3. Can multiple government entities simultaneously investigate the same target business? Must they coordinate their investigations? May they share information obtained from the target and on what terms?
  • 4. In what fora can civil charges be brought? In what fora can criminal charges be brought?
  • 5. Is there a legal concept of corporate criminal liability? How does the government prove that a corporation is criminally liable for the acts of its officers, directors or employees?
  • 6. Must the government evaluate any particular factors in deciding whether to bring criminal charges against a corporation?
  • 7. What requirements must be met before a government entity can commence a civil or criminal investigation?
  • 8. What events commonly trigger a government investigation? Do different enforcement entities have different triggering events?
  • 9. What protections are whistle-blowers entitled to?
  • More...

Government investigations—Australia—Q&A guide

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to government investigations in Australia published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: May 2020).

Authors: Nyman Gibson Miralis—Dennis Miralis; Jasmina Ceic; Phillip Gibson

1. What government agencies are principally responsible for the enforcement of civil and criminal laws and regulations applicable to businesses?

The Australian government has empowered numerous regulatory bodies to investigate and prosecute corporate misconduct.


The Australian Federal Police

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is the national law enforcement policing body, tasked with combating serious organised crime and enforcing the Commonwealth criminal law, which includes the offences of cybercrime, tax evasion, terrorism financing, foreign bribery and money laundering.

In relation to the investigation of money laundering and terrorism financing offences, the AFP works closely with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), Australia’s financial intelligence agency.

The Australian Security and Investments Commission

The Australian Security and Investments Commission (ASIC) regulates Australia’s corporate, market and financial sectors and assumes the enforcement and regulatory role of maintaining compliance of financial service providers including banks, brokers and credit unions.

Following the release of the final report in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry on 1 February 2019, the ASIC Office of Enforcement has been established and is operational following a A$404 million federal government investment package.

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