What is corruption?

Corruption is a criminal offence defined as an “abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Basically corruption is:

Corruption is dishonesty and illegal behaviour by people in positions of authority or power. 

Furthermore, it is closely associated with another white-collar crime: bribery. Usually, there must be a solicitation and receipt of a corrupt commission or reward.

Corruption comes under the Crimes Act 1900.

Corruption and Common Law Offences

A corruption case can include several other common law and statutory offences. For example:

  • Bribery,
  • Extortion, and
  • Misconduct in public office.

For these common law offences, there are no set maximum penalties. However, when a judge is sentencing, they refer to the penalties that apply to the corresponding statutory crimes.

Misconduct in Public Office

Misconduct in public office is a typical corruption crime. It involves someone in an official capacity partaking in misconduct, as part of their public role. Furthermore, they usually do it with no justification. The action must be serious enough to warrant a criminal punishment.

Solicitation a benefit 

A corrupt offence of receiving or soliciting a benefit/reward is proved by showing that someone has:

  • Received any benefit as an inducement or reward;
  • For doing something, or not doing something; or
  • For showing, or having shown favour, or disfavour, to someone.

Examples of corrupt conduct

Corrupt conduct could include illicit payments made by business operators to public sector employees for favourable treatment in decision-making.

For example, a construction company receiving a contract to build a public building after paying a public sector employee.

Furthermore, another common example of corruption is interfering with the course of justice

Examples of this type of corruption include:

  • Making a false accusation to the police,
  • Intentionally slowing down an investigation,
  • Concealing crimes,
  • Threatening or intimidating witnesses or jury members and
  • Destroying or tampering with evidence.

Statutory offences

In 1919, there were growing concerns about private sector corruption. As a result, these crimes were incorporated into the Crimes Act in 1987. Now, they fall under Section 4A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). These types of offences have the potential of receiving a penalty of up to 7 years in prison.

Offences such as receiving corrupt rewards, are for people serving under the crown. However, while that does include ministers it does not include members of parliament. Furthermore, Section 200 of the Police Act 1900 (NSW) outlines bribery involving a police officer for the state.

While Section 17 explains that the same rules around evidence do not apply to these types of crimes. In addition, Section 37 says that witnesses do not have the right to silence. Furthermore, witnesses cannot refuse to produce documents. However, if a witness refuses to answer a question or produce a document, that evidence cannot be used in future proceedings.

Standard of proof for corrupt crimes

In deciding if a behaviour is corrupt, they will base it on the civil standard of proof. This is the balance of probabilities. In comparison, the criminal standard is beyond a reasonable doubt.

A Famous Australian Corruption Case

A famous corruption case is that of Eddie Obeid. Namely, Obeid was a former Labor Party power broker and NSW MLC. In 2016, he was found guilty of corruption, namely, misconduct in a public office.

Specifically, the long-serving parliamentarian used his power to influence decisions that benefitted his family’s cafe. As a result, a court was sentenced to five years in prison.

Additionally, Obeid is also facing charges for another corruption charge for a $30 million coal deal.

Our Lawyers can help you with your corruption charges 

Are you facing charges for corruption? Or have you been a victim of corruption?

Our experienced lawyers have years of experience in this area of law. Get in touch with us today. Call O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors on (02) 9261 4281 to set up a free appointment with an experienced Sydney fraud lawyer.

1. Full-service criminal defence firm 

O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors is a full-service criminal defence law firm meaning that we provide legal advice on both criminal and civil law. After the completion of your criminal case, we can also continue to represent you in your civil matter (if one exists). 

In addition, we have represented many clients in their criminal matters and then proceeded to assist them in making a civil claim against the police. For instance, for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment, or suing a publisher for defamation. 

2. Competitive costs 

Your first consultation with one of our criminal lawyers is free. This is your opportunity to speak to us about your case and for us to discuss with you what your options are. If you choose to proceed with our services we will provide you with a cost agreement that sets out your legal fees. O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors provides cost-effective and professional legal advice.  

In some instances, we also offer reduced fees or pro bono services at the discretion of our Principal. Additionally, we can assist you in applying for Legal Aid if you are eligible. Speak to us if you have concerns regarding your ability to pay your legal fees.

3. Experienced  team of lawyers

Our criminal lawyers have handled cases in courts across NSW at Local Courts, District Courts and also the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal. With a wealth of experience in assisting clients with bail applications, trials, sentencing hearings, and also appeals. 

4. Our trauma-informed approach to legal practise 

O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors utilises a trauma-informed lawyering approach when interacting with our clients. We also understand that you have dealt with traumatic events and that engaging with authorities and courts is a stressful experience that might re-traumatise you. For this reason, we are sensitive to your mental and emotional needs and will assist you in an appropriate manner. Read more about our thoughts on trauma-informed lawyering.

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O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors
p: 02 9261 4281
a: Level 4, 219-223 Castlereagh St,
Sydney NSW 2000

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