RESERVE Bank governor Glenn Stevens, his former deputy and the whistleblower who exposed alleged corruption inside the bank’s subsidiaries will all be called to testify about the scandal before Federal Parliament.
In a major development that will intensify pressure on Mr Stevens, a joint parliamentary committee intends to grill the governor, his former deputy Ric Battellino and Brian Hood, the former RBA banknote executive turned star police witness.
The revelation that the trio will be called to the joint committee on October 4 comes after explosive evidence was aired yesterday in a Melbourne court about how the RBA allegedly persecuted Mr Hood after he became a whistleblower.
“[The RBA’s] treatment of me was harsh. I do not feel they afforded me proper protection as a whistleblower,” Mr Hood wrote to the Australian Federal Police in a 2010 email.
The decision by the joint committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity – which is examining Commonwealth agencies’ exposure to overseas corruption – to call the trio to testify comes after a series of reports in The Age revealed:
■Growing evidence that contradicts Mr Stevens’ previous parliamentary testimony that the first the RBA knew of corruption inside RBA banknote firm Securency was after a 2009 media expose.
■Senior Reserve Bank officials, including Mr Battellino and assistant governor Frank Campbell, were told about alleged corruption inside RBA firms Note Printing Australia and Securency in 2007.
■The mistreatment of whistleblowers, including the RBA’s decision to force Mr Hood out of his job at NPA in 2008 after he had raised repeated corruption concerns.
■Mr Battellino allegedly warned Mr Hood at his farewell lunch to “never” again discuss his corruption concerns.
Mr Hood testified yesterday at the criminal committal hearing of several Securency and NPA former executives facing foreign bribery charges.
Federal police began their inquiry as a result of a media expose in 2009, two years after Mr Hood told Mr Battellino about his allegations in June 2007.
Mr Hood said yesterday that Mr Battellino had “listened intently” throughout a detailed briefing, which included allegations that a Malaysian agent working for NPA and Securency had admitted to paying bribes.
“We discussed all the matters … that’s why it took 90 minutes,” Mr Hood said.
When asked by defence barrister Jason Gullaci whether he stood by his claim that he had been forced out of his job by RBA assistant governor Bob Rankin in the face of contradictory evidence, Mr Hood told the court that his job had been ”scrapped”.
Mr Hood’s email to police in 2010, aired in court, reveals he was considering suing the RBA over his claimed mistreatment, saying: “My career has been damaged in the process … I am
of the view that the RBA/NPA [Note Printing Australia’s] treatment of me was harsh.”
It is against Australian corporate law to victimise a whistleblower.
In court, Mr Hood also accused former NPA chief executive Chris Ogilvy, who was also a Securency director, of covering up corruption.
“I was being told to shut up and to stop investigating things. I was blocked and obstructed. I was being intimidated … I was being threatened by Mr Ogilvy that I would lose my job,” Mr Hood told the court. Mr Ogilvy has not been charged with any offences.
The corporate watchdog ASIC has refused without explanation a request by police to investigate corporate offences allegedly arising from the scandal. The RBA declined to comment yesterday when contacted by The Age.
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