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Listed US tech provider bribed Oz bank worker say cops

IT exec cuffed in Sydney amid allegations of corruptly avoiding tender

Updated A former banking industry IT executive has been arrested in Sydney for bribery over the handling of "lucrative" contracts.

Police in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) made the arrest, but have provided scant detail about the matter. But the contract must have been big: as the boys in blue say “To date, more than US$1.5 million in suspected corrupt payments have been frozen by officers from the Fraud & Cybercrime Squad”. If the bribes were that big, the deal surely ran to many millions more. Australian banks are currently doing core system refreshes, which could point at enormous software or data centre hardware contracts.

A NSW Police statement says “... detectives will allege that two of the bank’s (now former) employees were involved in a corrupt relationship with a now publicly-listed overseas technology provider.”

“Police will contend that the managers granted the US-headquartered IT company a lucrative contract without putting it to public tender. In exchange, the managers allegedly received payment.”

The alleged crime came to light after an Australian bank notified police after an internal investigation that “uncovered some suspicious payments that had been deposited into the bank accounts of two of the bank's senior IT staff, both Sydney-based US nationals”.

A 61-year-old man was arrested yesterday (Tuesday, 17 March) in Surry Hills, and refused bail to appear again today at Sydney's Central Local Court.

The Reg understands the suspect worked for the Commonwealth Bank.

NSW Police hasn't yet named the “now-listed” US company involved in the scandal. The police say they are working with the FBI to locate another former bank executive in connection with the matter. ®

Update: NSW Police has held a press conference in which it has emerged that the second individual sought by NSW Police is not a US national, but a New Zealander who has since “fled to the US”.

NSW Police Fraud and Cybercrime Squad commander Arthur Katsogiannis told the press conference in Sydney that the unnamed company involved in the scandal was a supplier of “IT services” to the bank, and that a shell company was set up to receive the payments.

He added that at this stage, the investigation is solely an NSW Police operation, but that the FBI has been asked for information on the second individual.

Commander Katsogiannis declined to name the American company involved, but said that the bribery allegations relate to a services contract worth “tens of millions”.

He added that if convicted, those charged face up to seven years in prison.

Katsogiannis said the New Zealand national NSW Police seeks is already in the USA, having fled once the bank accounts believed to hold the corrupt payments were frozen.

The commander also said the bank is “reviewing” its contracts with the supplier, but declined to state whether or not those contracts had been cancelled. ®

Update 2: Following his court appearance, the accused has been named as Keith Hunter, who left his role as head of IT delivery services the bank in 2014.

Hunter has been released on conditional bail. ®

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