ASIC and AFP to investigate together

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More evidence needs to be shared between the Australian Federal Police and Australian Securities and Investments Commission when conducting investigations, Labor senator Sam Dastyari has declared.

In a Senate estimates session with the corporate regulator on Wednesday, Dastyari criticised that lack of collaboration between the two investigators.

Both are currently conducting separate investigations into Leighton Holdings over alleged corporate offences linked to claims the firm paid multimillion-dollar bribes to win overseas contracts.

But during the Senate session, ASIC official Chris Savundra said an ASIC investigator was soon to be seconded to the AFP to work jointly on the investigation.

ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft said his agency signed a memorandum of understanding with the police in October.

It was also in October that ASIC defended its failure to investigate Leighton in connection with corporate offences allegedly linked to the bribery scandal, claiming it had to wait until the AFP referred the case to it.

The senator said he was concerned information acquired by AFP in general could not be used by ASIC and this was something that needs to be addressed.  If the AFP gathers evidence with search powers, currently it can only be used for criminal, not civil matters.

“One of the issues is how to make the relationship work so nothing falls through the cracks.”

But Mr Medcraft told the Senate hearing it was worth considering whether ASIC should run parallel investigations instead of waiting for police referrals. "Clearly, I do think it would be good if we can look at that issue," he said.