NBN Co chief executive, Mike Quigley, has faced an onslaught of questions from a joint parliamentary committee around his role in former employer Alcatel-Lucent's bribery scandal.
The NBN Co head admitted to the committee that his reason for not disclosing the investigation into corruption, that the issue was “resolved to the satisfaction of the SEC and DOJ before the NBN Co even existed”, had contradicted actual events.
“I probably spoke too loosely at that time,” he said. “You are correct on the basis of that timing I probably spoke too early about what I anticipated which has now actually eventuated and I shouldn’t have anticipated.”
“The reason I didn’t raise this with the government is I have never been questioned by either the Department of Justice or the Securities Exchange Commission, I was aware of a process that was going on in Alcatel and as everything I’d heard, it was proceeding as these things normally do…I’m not excusing the legality that took place or whether Alcatel’s processes were tight enough, clearly if illegal activity took place they were not,” he said.
Quigley late last week issued a statement admitting that Costa Rica did fall under his operational control during which time bribery allegations were made against the company, despite initially denying it fell under his jurisdiction.
He said following the five year investigation that he was “advised” by a previous colleague who still works for the company that Costa Rica was not within his area of operational control.
“On a basis of that advice I stated that it was not [in my region], this was an error for which I unreservedly apologise,” Quigley told the inquiry.
Quigley also noted he did not intend to familiarise himself with the results of the five year investigation which he said is subject to a settlement hearing in the US in June.
“I will not be commenting further on the matters, I repeat that at no time has the US SEC or DOJ sought to interview me or question me regarding any of those matters,” he said.
In the past, the chief executive has played down the controversy surrounding his former employer, who was ordered to pay $US137 million settlement for the bribery cases.
“Let me stress, Alcatel wasn’t alone in this,” he said. “When you are operating 130 or 140 companies and 60,000 people and a $20 billion Australian company it’s complex,” Quigley said at the time.
Specifically, the cases concerned allegations about the sales activities of Alcatel from the 1990s through its 2006 merger with Lucent Technologies.
Quigley came under fire last year when the company signed a multi million dollar deal with Alcatel-Lucent, as both he and NBN Co’s CFO, Jean-Pascal Beaufret, are former employees of the company, and was forced to deny any involvement in the decision.
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