UC Irvine Journal of International, Transnational, and Comparative Law


To date, “transnational criminal law” has been the dominant

paradigm for explaining and mapping rules on corruption in the

international legal literature. Transnational criminal law is presented as a

system of law descending from multilateral crime control treaties or a field or

order that emerges through international political processes of regime

formation. Transnational criminal lawyers identify and describe cross-border

legal rules, and seek to evaluate them against liberal norms of democratic

governance and individual civil and political human rights. This Article

details the limits of transnational criminal conceptions of “anticorruption”

through a study of proposed changes to Australian laws on corporate foreign

bribery. Drawing on primary and secondary documentary sources, domestic

and international, it shows that the emerging antipodean rules are only

partially transnational, as that term is understood in transnational criminal

law theory. Likewise, multilateral “suppression conventions” and related

soft laws are but one impetus for the proposed changes to Australian federal

anticorruption legislation. Rather, as the transnational legal ordering

literature suggests, a recursive process appears to be at work between

international organizations and local legislators, as well as transnational

non-state actors, both charities and businesses. This process is marked by

moments of borrowing from (former) patrons, the US and the UK.

However, it is also punctuated by themes of modernization, economic

efficiency, and reputation. In addition, Australian anti-corruption activities

may result not just in changes to national criminal law, but also in the

development of “new” – and controversial – techniques of governance.