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Australia: Tax breaks for overseas bribes must go

Tax breaks for overseas bribes must go - Greens

Tax breaks for so called 'facilitation' payments, given to overseas entities to smooth the way for business transactions, need to be outlawed, Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

In a press release the OECD expressed concern about Australian laws that enable Australian companies to, "get tax deductions for so-called 'facilitation payments' which enable Australian companies to pay foreign government officials to, for example, speed up routine governmental actions, such as providing permits or licences."

"Treasurer Costello's tax reform agenda must include bringing an end to tax breaks for bribery," said Senator Brown.

"Australian companies should be required to observe the same ethical standards overseas as the law requires in Australia."

Senator Brown has today asked the Treasurer:

* Over the last five years, how much money have Australian companies spent on 'facilitation' payments?

* What is the estimated cost to the Australian taxpayers of providing tax deductibility for 'facilitation' payments?

* Following the concerns with Australia's laws raised by the OECD will the Treasurer commit to introducing laws banning the tax deductibility of 'facilitation' payments in the next parliamentary sitting period?

* Will the Treasurer adopt the OECD's recommendation and push for stronger whistleblower protection laws to protect Australian public servants based overseas who detect instances of bribery?

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