The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has hit the ground running, with consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers among the first referrals to the watchdog which began operating on Saturday.
The NACC will decide whether to investigate the accounting giant over revelations it misused confidential government tax information to generate business.
The NACC was created under the National Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2022 to investigate “serious and systemic corruption”. Under the Act, corrupt conduct is defined as any conduct by a public official which:
- adversely affects their own, or another public official’s honesty or impartiality in the way they carry out their official duties;
- breaches public trust;
- abuses their office as a public official; and
- misuses information they have gained in their capacity as a public official.
This includes conduct which occurred before or after the NACC was established.
The commission’s investigative powers include entry to Commonwealth property without a warrant, and covert operations such as the interception of telecommunications. It can make findings of fact and recommendations to the Australian Federal Police Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution.
Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said the NACC, led by war crimes investigator and New South Wales Judge Paul Brereton, would act as a “powerful watchdog, delivering accountability and transparency that is rightly expected by the Australian public”.
“This will strengthen our democracy and public institutions,” Mr Dreyfus said.
“The commission has strong powers to detect, investigate and prevent corruption across the entire Commonwealth sector.
“Anyone can refer a matter they believe constitutes corruption to the commission.
“And then it’s up to the commission to determine what it investigates.”
The NACC is overseen by a statutory Parliamentary Joint Committee, and an independent inspector.