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The 100 per cent owner of Australian telco giant Optus, the Singapore Government-controlled Singtel, states it has “zero tolerance” for “bribery and corruption in any form”.

The “Singtel Group Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy”, which covers Optus, appears in stark contrast to the actions of the group since senior executive and former Australian politician Gladys Berejiklian was last week found guilty of serious corruption.

Berejiklian, Optus’s Managing Director, Enterprise and Business, repeatedly engaged in “serious corrupt conduct” while Premier of NSW, Australia’s largest state, the state’s anti-corruption body found Thursday.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) found Berejiklian engaged in “serious corrupt conduct”; breached the public trust and was an “unsatisfactory witness in many respects”.

She also falsely claimed the NSW Government Ministerial Code of Conduct had not applied to her — even though she was NSW Premier.

Berejiklian resigned as NSW Premier in October 2021 after the ICAC revealed she was one of two people under official investigation in its multi-year Operation Keppel probe.

Just months later, in February 2022 — and while the corruption probe was ongoing — Optus, under chair Paul O’Sullivan and CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, appointed Berejiklian to the senior executive role.

Singtel Group’s  Anti-Corruption and Bribery Policy. Source: Singtel


Despite being found to have engaged in serious corruption, Optus and Singtel have refused to say if Berejiklian will be ousted — or to even condemn her “seriously corrupt” conduct as Premier of Australia’s largest state.

Instead, Optus on Thursday simply released a two-sentence statement, from an unnamed “spokesperson”, saying it “acknowledges” the ICAC report — and referred media to a statement issued by Berejiklian herself.

“Optus acknowledges the ICAC report published in relation to Gladys Berejiklian’s time serving as a Member of the NSW Parliament,” the Optus statement says.

“We refer you to Gladys’ media statement and have no further comment to make”.

Gladys Berejiklian’s five sentence media statement — despite the extremely serious findings of corruption against her — contains no admission of any wrongdoing or any apology for her conduct.

“Serving the people of NSW was an honour and privilege,” she states.

“At all times I have worked my hardest in the public interest. Nothing in this report demonstrates otherwise”.

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The Sydney Morning Herald reports on Optus executive Berejiklian’s corruption. Source: SMH

Berejiklian’s appointment to a senior role at Optus drew serious condemnation from corporate governance and business ethics experts  – but the latest development has stirred outrage.

“This is more than breathtaking,” said Dr Andrew Schmulow, an Associate Professor at the University of Wollongong and one of Australia’s top governance experts.

“This is arrogated contempt for their customers, for Australian law, for the rule of law,” he said.

“Singtel has breached its social licence to own a piece of critical infrastructure in Australia and they refuse to reign-in their Wild West cowboy management”.

“Singtel has breached its social licence to own a piece of critical infrastructure in Australia” – Dr Andrew Schmulow

Dr Schmulow, who has provided corporate governance advice to the parliaments of multiple countries, as well as to the United Nations, said Singtel “should be forced to divest” Optus.

“Optus is a cancer and Singtel is the vector by which it is spread,” he said.

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The Klaxon has obtained the “Singtel Group Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy”, which applies to Singtel and “each of its subsidiaries”.

The five-page document does not specifically address employing in senior roles former politicians who have been found to have engaged in serious corruption but is strongly worded in its “anti-corruption” stance.

It says corruption “in any form” will not be tolerated.

“Singtel adopts a zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption of any form,” it states.

“Singtel adopts a zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption of any form” — Singtel

It says the Singtel Code of Conduct “prohibits any practice that might conceal or facilitate bribery or any other corrupt action”.

“Singtel adopts a zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption of any form as set out in the Singtel Code of Conduct and reflected in this Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy,” it states.

“Singtel refers to Singapore Telecommunications Limited and, where the context allows, each of its subsidiaries and references to Singtel policies include references to any equivalent policies adopted by overseas Singtel entities”.

Long-time Optus chair Paul O’Sullivan. Source: Supplied


Optus chair O’Sullivan is responsible for governance at Optus. He was Optus CEO from 2004 to 2012 and has been Optus chair since 2014. He is chair of major bank ANZ, a position he has held since 2020.

O’Sullivan has repeatedly refused to respond to requests for comment from The Klaxon.

The ICAC found Berejiklian’s “seriously corrupt conduct” included facilitating millions of dollars of “grants” – against official department advice – in the electorate of then Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, without disclosing she was at the time in a multi-year relationship with him.

She also engaged in seriously corrupt conduct by failing to disclose corrupt, or deeply improper, private business dealings involving Maguire while he was MP, which she was aware of while Premier.

Optus is Singtel’s biggest subsidiary and its biggest source of revenue and profit.

As revealed by The Klaxon, Optus paid zero income tax in Australia in 2020-21, the most recent figures released by the Australian Taxation Office, despite earning billions in revenue and profits from its Australian operations.

In the year to March 2021 (Singtel reports a March 30 balance date) Singtel reported its “Australia Consumer” segment delivered revenue of S$6.957 billion (A$7.73bn).

Its earnings (disclosed as its “EBITDA”, a common measure of profit) for the same period from that Australia segment were S$1.85bn ($2.06bn).

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Australia is by far Singtel’s biggest source of both revenue and profit/earnings. Source: Singtel 2022 annual report


As also revealed by The Klaxon, Optus made almost $70,000 in political “donations” to Australia’s major political parties in 2021-22 – despite it being illegal for “foreign donors” to make payments over $100.

“Foreign donors” include companies in which a foreign government “holds more than 50%” of its shares.

The Singapore Government, via its investment arm Temasek Holdings, owns 52 per cent of Singtel’s shares.

Last year personal details of 10 million Optus customers — roughly every second Australian adult — were exposed on the dark web, in what was the nation’s biggest data breach.

Singapore’s Optus is hiding the findings of consultancy Deloitte’s “review” into its mass data breach. Source: The Klaxon


Facing intense scrutiny, Optus in October announced it had engaged “consultancy” Deloitte to conduct an “independent external review”, yet nine months later, Optus is refusing to release the findings.

Berejiklian’s serious corrupt conduct in parliament is particularly serious as a key part of her role at Optus is to secure major contracts from Australian governments and dealing with sensitive government information.

Singtel’s Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy contains a section titled “Working with Third Parties & the Government”.

“Particular care must be taken when dealing with public officials, for example people who work for the government, or politicians and their staff,” it states.

The Singtel Group policy states it “will be regularly reviewed and updated as needed to ensure it continues to be adequate and effective”.

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Anthony Klan

Editor, The Klaxon


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