On September 10, it was reported that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have opted to end their three year-long investigation of Tabcorp, a report that was welcome news to Australia’s biggest gambling company. The investigation was initiated when it was alleged that Tabcorp had made a payment of $200,000 to a business link to the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen.
According to the company, they had been exploring a potential business opportunity in Cambodia back in 2009, as they were looking to get involved in the sports betting market. This occurred when many countries in Asia were looking to deregulate sports betting.
According to Australian corporate law, payments to foreign officials or industry regulatory stakeholders is prohibited, especially in an instance where it is believed that it is being made to “gain a business advantage or facilitating of services.” It was alleged that this payment was being made to support Tabcorp’s goal of getting a sports betting license from the Cambodian regulatory authorities.
Elmer Funke Kupper, who was the CEO at Tabcorp at the time the payment was made, stepped down from his position in 2011, and would later step down from his position as a corporate director of Tabcorp once the allegation became public. Not long after the allegations were made, Kupper also stepped down from his position as CEO of the Australian Securities Exchange.
In describing the investigation, a spokesman for the AFP stated, “In late 2012, the Australian Federal Police began an investigation into allegations of foreign bribery relating to an Australian company (Tabcorp) relating to alleged payments to Cambodian government officials in 2009 and 2010.”
However, the spokesman concluded that after a lengthy investigation, the company was found to not be in violation. “In 2019 the AFP conducted a review of this long and thorough investigation and found it is not possible to obtain the evidence required to support a criminal prosecution. The AFP now considers this matter finalized.”
Elmer Funke Kupper, who was the CEO at Tabcorp at the time the payment was made, stepped down from his position in 2011, and would later step down from his position as a corporate director of Tabcorp once the allegation became public. Not long after the allegations were made, Kupperalso stepped down from his position as CEO of the Australian Securities Exchange.
In a statement released by Tabcorp following the announcement, the company explained, “Tabcorp has been advised today by the Australian Federal Police that it has closed its investigation into the Cambodian matter and that it is not intending to take any action in respect of this matter. Tabcorp has co-operated with the AFP throughout the investigation and welcomes the conclusion of this matter.”
The news was welcomed by investors as well, as Tabcorp shares rose by 0.4%, to $4.79. This is compared to a 0.3% rise for the benchmark S&P/ASX200.