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Firm cited in Nigeria’s banknote printing bribery suspends 2 executives

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TWO executives of the Australian banknote-making firm, said to have paid bribe to win printing offer from a Nigerian, have been suspended over a police probe into alleged bribery and kickbacks, officials said.

The company is partly owned by Australian Central Bank. The managing director and company secretary of Securency, in which the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has a 50 percent stake, were stood down, Friday, pending police inquiries, said board chairman Bob Rankin.

“On May 23, 2009, allegations were made in The Age newspaper that payments made to agents by Securency International Pty Ltd may have been used by the agents to pay kickbacks to foreign government officials,” Rankin said in a statement issued late Friday night.

“The Board of Securency took the allegations very seriously and referred them to the Australian Federal Police (AFP),” he added. “The Board … has asked the managing director and the company secretary to stand aside from their positions while investigations continue.”

The RBA issued a brief statement saying it endorsed Securency’s actions. According to The Age report Securency officials paid more than 12 million dollars in kickbacks for a printing contract to a Vietnamese businessman with links to the communist state’s government. Securency officials are also accused of paying bribes worth millions of dollars into tax haven bank accounts of a politically-connected Nigerian businessman to win a 2007 contract.

Australian law forbids companies from paying foreign officials or government-controlled firms for a business advantage. Rankin, also an assistant governor of the RBA, said police had raided Securency’s offices and the board had also commissioned accounting firm KPMG to conduct an independent audit, which was ongoing.

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