As a small, highly specialised agency, the SFO’s focus is serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption

Serious fraud and corruption - what fraud is and what we do

Criteria for complaint investigation

Our criteria for investigating complaints are:

  • impact – number of people affected and how significantly
  • scale – if it undermines public confidence in New Zealand as a safe place to invest, or undermine the integrity of our financial markets
  • complexity – factual, financial or legal complexity beyond the resources of other enforcement agencies
  • public interest and the preventative impact of a successful prosecution.

Bribery and corruption explained

Bribery is the act of giving money or another item of value in exchange for an altered behaviour that benefits the giver. The World Bank estimates that around $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year.

There is no legally binding definition of corruption in New Zealand. The definition used by the Asia Development Bank is:

"Behaviour on the part of officials in the public or private sector in which they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves or those close to them, or induce others to do so, by misusing the position in which they are placed".

Corruption has traditionally limited offending to the public sector, however this definition aligns with the SFO’s view of no distinction between the two sectors. Offenses in either context are high priority, irrespective of the dollar value of the offending.

Examples of bribery and corruption include: secret commissions (kickbacks), manipulating tendering processes, undisclosed conflicts of interest, wilful blindness to the activities of overseas agents, undisclosed gift giving or extravagant corporate hospitality.

The effects of bribery and corruption include:

  • undermined ability of governments to provide high-quality services
  • the price of delivering services increases
  • the competitiveness of the marketplace is reduced as a result of predetermined outcomes of tendering processes
  • trust and confidence in public officials and business leaders is destroyed
  • the social fabric of a society can be destroyed.

Click here for legislation governing bribery and corruption.

See also our advice on What to watch for and whether your business is at risk of breaching bribery and corruption laws.

Serious financial crime jurisdiction

Our justification is subject to existing offences under New Zealand Law and extends to:

SFO jurisdiction

How to create a fraud and corruption policy

The Ministry of Justice has prepared this framework to assist public and private sector organisations to develop and improve their fraud and corruption policy and procedures.

A description and a PDF of the framework can be viewed here.