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Australia charges U.S. national with taking bribes at Commonwealth Bank

An American executive in the IT department of Australia’s biggest bank has been charged with taking at least $1.5 million in bribes, Australian police said.

Keith Hunter, 61, was arrested Tuesday at his home in Sidney.

He appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to two corruption charges. He was released on bail after surrendering his passport.

Police have frozen $1.5 million in suspected corrupt payments. They believe “tens of millions” could be involved, Australia’s ABC News said.

Australia police accused Hunter and a colleague of taking up to $2.2 million in bribes to help ServiceMesh win a no-bid contract from Commonwealth Bank. Police alleged the contract price was inflated to pay for the bribery.

Two years ago, ServiceMesh was bought by Virginia-based Computer Sciences Corporation, or CSC.

Police in New South Wales said they want to question a second potential suspect. Jon Waldron, also a U.S. national, isn’t in Australia. He was formerly an IT manager at Commonwealth Bank. Australian police are working with the FBI to find Waldron, ABC News said.

The Wall Street Journal said, “The police allege that Eric Pulier, previously ServiceMesh’s chairman and chief executive and now vice president and general manager of CSC’s global cloud unit, rewarded the two former bank executives with cash payments.”

CSC said it has launched an internal investigation.

Australia police started their investigation after receiving a report from Commonwealth Bank. It had detected suspicious U.S. dollar deposits from a shell company in the United States into an account at the bank controlled by one of the suspects, ABC News said.

A police spokesman congratulated the bank for uncovering the alleged bribery and coming forward.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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