Bloomberg News

Australian Panel Has No Plans to Recall RBA’s Stevens to Testify

October 06, 2011

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- An Australian parliamentary panel has no plans to recall Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens to testify about a report that central bank officials suppressed evidence of corruption at the bank’s note-printing units.

Julie Owens, who chairs the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, declined to confirm a Sydney Morning Herald report today that claimed lawmakers would discuss next week whether to ask Stevens to return after he and Deputy Governor Ric Battellino answered questions Aug. 26 about the matter.

The panel "has no plans to reconvene before its next scheduled hearing," Owens said in an e-mailed response to questions. "The Sydney Morning Herald did not contact me to ask whether the committee would discuss the matter, and if they had, I would have said that the committee has no comment to make on what they might or might not discuss in a private meeting."

Battellino was among those aware of the corruption concerns, the newspaper reported yesterday, citing internal documents at the RBA and the printing units, Securency International Pty and Note Printing Australia Ltd. The Herald today cited a letter sent by the RBA to the committee to correct some comments made by Stevens and Battellino in their Aug. 26 testimony on an internal investigation into the bribery allegations.

The RBA’s letter, dated Aug. 29, clarified some of the details that Battellino and Stevens offered in their testimony, including the timing of the termination of contracts with agents in Nepal and Malaysia.

“The letter which the Herald claims to have ‘obtained’ is a public document that has been on the Australian Parliament House Committee website since shortly after its receipt,” Owens said.

Error Made

“The Reserve Bank advised the committee that an error had been made in the testimony immediately after the hearing (i.e. while I was still on the way to the airport) and submitted a letter correcting the record on the next business day,” she said. The letter was posted on the committee’s website Sept. 14, Owens said.

The Herald reported yesterday that Reserve Bank officials in 2007 and 2008 covered up information about secret payments to middlemen hired by the subsidiaries that sought contracts in Nepal and Malaysia.

The RBA said it “categorically denies the allegations, which are based on inaccurate and incomplete facts.”

Greens Party lawmaker Adam Bandt, whose vote the government relies on to pass legislation, has urged Treasurer Wayne Swan to establish a probe into the matter and for Stevens to be recalled before the economics committee. Bandt also sits on the panel.

--Editors: Brendan Murray, Ken McCallum

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at mheath1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net


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