Tuesday 12 December 2017

Australia bourse chief quits amid bribery probe at former employer Tabcorp

Pedestrians are reflected in a window displaying stock prices outside the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney. Photo: Reuters
Pedestrians are reflected in a window displaying stock prices outside the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney. Photo: Reuters

Australian bourse operator ASX Ltd said its chief executive officer has quit as police investigate allegations of bribery at gambling company Tabcorp Holdings Ltd, which he formerly headed.

Tabcorp last week revealed it was under investigation by Australian Federal Police over a payment concerning a Cambodian business opportunity in 2009. The police said in a statement they were investigating allegations of foreign bribery relating to Tabcorp but did not give further details.

Elmer Funke Kupper, who was CEO of Tabcorp from 2007 to 2011 before taking up his role at the ASX, could not be immediately reached for comment.

His resignation makes him the highest profile Australian business leader to lose his job over bribery allegations since executives at wheat exporter AWB Ltd stepped down a decade ago amid accusations of paying off Saddam Hussein's government to do business in Iraq.

"The ASX board accepted that Elmer wanted to direct his full focus to the investigations which may be made into the Tabcorp matter, and not have them interfere with the important role of leading the ASX," ASX Chairman Rick Holliday-Smith said in a statement on Monday.

The statement said his resignation would be effective immediately and that Holliday-Smith would lead the bourse until a replacement had been found.

Holliday-Smith said Funke Kupper had left the ASX a more focused company that was committed to innovation and investment in customer services and infrastructure.

Dutch-born Funke Kupper, 50, has remained a director at Tabcorp since taking the helm of the world's eighth-largest stock exchange by free float capital. Tabcorp said on Monday that he had taken a leave of absence in relation to the investigation.

In its statement last week, Tabcorp said it had at one point it had considered entering the Cambodian sports betting market in 2009 amid expectations of gambling deregulation in Asia, but ultimately it never set up a business there.

Reuters

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