Printing Fiat Money: Australian allegations of worldwide bribery

August 4, 2014

An Australian court has issued a gagging order in an attempt to block the reporting of “massive” allegations of bribery involving several international political leaders. A redacted copy of the order can be found here. Robert Booth and Rob Evans writing in The Guardian explain how an “Extraordinary Gagging order” was put in place to prevent the reporting on details emerging from a criminal case before the Australian courts. The gagging order was put in place to prevent the disclosure of information gained in an ongoing investigation by Australian prosecutors, across three continents, into allegations of multimillion-pound bribes being paid in the banknote-printing industry. The Guardian is alleging that business executives at a company called Securency, that prints banknotes for governments, are:

alleged to have conspired to win lucrative contracts to print plastic notes in several south-east Asian countries allegedly by paying bribes to high-ranking politicians and officials between 1999 and 2005.

Benjamin Ismail, head of the Asia-Pacific desk for Reporters Without Borders, has said: “The rationale of this suppression order is unacceptable and cannot justify such absolute censorship for all news providers and netizens,” He went on to say that: “This disproportionate order, which also aims at protecting the interests of certain leaders of south-east Asian countries, amounts to asking everyone to close their eyes on at least half of the case. It’s senseless and counterproductive. We urge the authorities to place public interest first by immediately revoking this ban and allowing full transparency on this matter.”

The ‘gagging order’ was issued by Justice Hollingworth, who said that: it was in place “to prevent damage to Australia’s international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings.”

The investigations into Securency by the UKs  Serious Fraud Office, took place when Securency, at the time of the alleged corruption, was half-owned by Innovia Films, a manufacturing firm based in Cumbria, in the UK.

Bill Lowther, a Cumbrian businessman, who served on Securency’s board, was acquitted by a London jury in 2012 of conspiring to bribe the former governor of Vietnam’s central bank. On Wednesday, the Serious Frauds Office said its investigation in Securency is ongoing but gave no further details. In Australia, the alleged corruption has been hugely controversial as the other half of Securency was owned by the Australian Central Bank, which is alleged to have hushed up the secret payments. A number of executives are currently  being prosecuted by Australian police.

WikiLeaks has published a full and unabridged version of the gagging order relating to the criminal case in Australia.

A leading media lawyer in London, Mark Stephens, said it was:  “an attempt to silence the world on a matter of enormous public importance.” He went on to describe it: “It is an abuse of legal process to allow a super-injunction to be used to cover up governmental embarrassment on matters of enormous public interest.”

This is not a condemnation of all fiat currencies, but rather a simple look at how the production of banknotes can be influenced by external factors. If the mere production of banknotes can be subject to external influence, then to what extent can governments be influenced to devalue or revalue a currency? To what extent are the financial decisions of our masters influenced by personal financial decisions? There is a strong case for a decentralized cryptocurrency here alone.

Featured image by Shutterstock.

PJ Delaney @P.J. Delaney@delboyir

Masters in Public Administration, Bachelors in Mgt., I live in Ireland, I have a bit of a background in Economics and lots of opinions on everything else.