NBN Co CEO, Mike Quigley, used a press conference in Sydney to reject allegations he should’ve known about cases of bribery that took place in Alcatel-Lucent when he was a senior executive there.
The US Government recently fined Alcatel-Lucent $US137 million for providing foreign officials with bribes in exchange for winning major contracts in Costa Rica and other countries.
Both Quigley and NBN Co CFO, Jean-Pascal Beaufret, were senior executives during the period investigated. Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, had used the case to question Quigley and Beaufret's management abilities at NBN Co.
The press conference was Quigley’s first for 2011 and was largely spent fielding questions about his potential involvement. The CEO said he was not shocked when the fines were handed out.
“Of course I wasn’t shocked, this was something that had been going on for…five years,” he said. “Jean-Pascal Beaufret nor myself were once questioned by (the US authorities) because they weren’t interested in us.
“If they had thought we’d had any responsibility in any way I’m sure they would’ve…these connections I read about in the press are frankly misinformed.”
Quigley also rejected the US Government’s assertion that any senior Alcatel-Lucent executives that didn’t know about the bribes were “severely reckless”.
“No, I know that we had some very strict business practices,” he said. “In hindsight yes it would’ve been nice if it had been caught, but when it was detected it was reported to the authorities.
“The problem you’ve got is someone in the exporting unit and someone in the importing unit colluding. Then they find ways around the systems and that’s what happened.”
But despite his refusal to take responsibility for the scandal at Alcatel-Lucent, Quigley promised he would if any scandals broke out at NBN Co
“We’re talking in Australia about a company with 600 people…the governance around that is very different to a $20 billion company across 130 countries,” he said. “We’ve got all of the systems and processes in place to make sure we’re watching things carefully.
“But can any CEO guarantee there will never be any criminal acts by an employee? Of course not.”