Accepting and Receiving a Bribe – Corrupting benefit by a Commonwealth Public Official

On 5 July 2022 a former ATO employee and another individual were conveyed to Parramatta Local Court to have their matter heard after being investigated by a multi-agency taskforce headed by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity focusing on corruption.

The two were brought before the court on bribery and corruption charges and it is alleged that the ATO employee accepted a bribe of $150,000 to let slip an audit for debts amounting to $6,000,000.

The ATO employee was charged with:

  • Receiving a corrupting benefit as a Commonwealth public official.
  • Unauthorised access to or modification of restricted data held in computer.

The other individual involved was charged with:

  • Giving a corrupting benefit to a Commonwealth Public official.
  • Bribery of a commonwealth public official.

Unauthorised Access of restricted data

The former ATO employee was charged under Section 308H of the Crimes Act 1900 which prescribes the elements of the offence of unauthorised access as a person who:

  • Causes unauthorised access to restricted data held in a computer
  • Who knows the access is unauthorised and;
  • intends to cause that access

This offence carries a maximum term of imprisonment of  years.

What is the offence of giving or receiving a ‘Corrupting Benefit to or by a Commonwealth Public Official’?

Section 142.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 provides that a person commits this offence if they dishonestly:

  • Provide/receive a benefit from another person
  • The person offers or agrees to a benefit from another person
  • The receipt or expectation of the receipt of the benefit would tend to influence a commonwealth public official in the exercise of their duties.

This offence carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 5 years

Bribery of a Commonwealth public official

This is a very serious federal offence and carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of 10,000 penalty units ($1,100,000) (Section 141.1 Criminal Code Act 1995).

In the case of R v Cranney [2015] NSWDC 276 a customs officer was charged with 2 counts of receiving a bribe as a Commonwealth public official and was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.

In the context of the former ATO employee and the other individual, both accused have allegedly been found to have either given or received a corrupting benefit which served with the expectation to influence a Commonwealth public official in the exercise of their duties.


To find a person guilty of this offence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed this offence with the intention to receive/give a benefit or expectation of a benefit from the other party.

It must also be shown that the official or civilian individual committed the offence dishonestly and with the intention to influence the Commonwealth public official in the course of their duties.

If you have been arrested or the police are looking to interview you regarding an investigation, Pannu Lawyers is able to advise you of your rights at every step of the criminal investigation & trial process. Pannu Lawyers extensively practice in Criminal Law, our Victoria office is located in Dandenong North. If you are looking for the best Family Lawyers, we are the right fit for you. Call our Blacktown office on 02 9920 1787  or our Dandenong office on 1300 825 335 to discuss your matter in a confidential manner.

The above information is intended as general information and is not intended to be relied on as legal advice.

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