Government employees should never expect to receive additional benefits for their work. Accepting gifts or benefits can result in an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest that can undermine the legitimacy of their actions.
In the context of grooming, gifts and benefits can also constitute bribes. Gifts offered in the context of grooming are wide-ranging and are not limited to monetary benefits. They can include:
- favours or non-financial assistance
- emotional or familial support
- secondary employment
- holidays, expensive jewellery or alcohol, and
- social benefits or increased status.
Gifts are not always offered in a transactional manner or explicitly in connection with the illegal assistance being provided by the official. In some circumstances, they may appear to be given only in the context of what the official believes is a genuine and meaningful relationship with the perpetrator.
In the case study, Operation Voss, the official felt a strong personal obligation to the business owner who groomed him, and with whom he had built (what he believed) was a genuine friendship over many years.
Case Study: Operation Voss
Operation Voss was a joint ACLEI investigation into an allegation that an employee of the former Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) assisted the owners of a business import plant, into Australia.
The investigation identified the former official had been groomed and apparently befriended by a business owner over many years. Subsequently, they developed a strong personal allegiance to each other. As a result, the official disclosed a range of sensitive and commercially valuable information, and conducted lenient inspections of plants imported by the business owner. This included conducting lenient inspections of plants imported by the business owner.
The former official recognised that the gifts provided by the business owner – including emotional support, cash, overseas travel, and part-time employment – were likely given to illicit their assistance or corrupt conduct.