NEW internal documents have contradicted parliamentary testimony by the Reserve Bank governor, Glenn Stevens, that the bank knew nothing about the Securency banknote scandal before it was revealed by a Herald investigation in 2009.
The scandal involves the Reserve Bank companies Securency and Note Printing Australia, which were charged last year with bribing foreign officials to win banknote contracts.
The sensitive documents, seen by the Herald, which contradict Mr Stevens's parliamentary testimony, come from the central bank's files.
They show that in 2007:
The assistant governor Frank Campbell was told that Securency engineered a dodgy business deal to hide a $492,000 payment to an allegedly corrupt Malaysian arms dealer;
The arms dealer's company wrote to Mr Campbell demanding further payments and stating that it had convinced the ''prime minister and the Malaysian cabinet'' to give out contracts.
Reserve Bank auditor John Klincke allegedly queried a Securency manager about payments to an agent working for Vietnam's spy agency, and was told in response: "Well, if I asked you if you worked for ASIO, you wouldn't tell me, would you".
The Herald can also reveal that the Reserve - unwittingly or otherwise - hampered the Australian Federal Police bribery inquiry by failing to inform it for several months in 2009 of incriminating documents it held regarding its subsidiaries' activities.
In response to 18 questions from the Herald, the Reserve released a statement saying:
''The bank has sought to deal appropriately with all the issues that have arisen. It has co-operated fully with the legal authorities, notifying them of the existence of relevant documents and providing documents when requested. There has been no attempt by the bank to hide information from the authorities.
''Even if it were ultimately to be concluded, with the benefit of
hindsight, that incorrect conclusions were drawn from the various investigations, the bank and the NPA board relied on the information available at the time and external legal advice. The bank's executives acted in good faith and with integrity. It is completely without foundation to suggest otherwise.''
The fresh revelations have led to further calls for an inquiry into the bank's handling of the scandal.
The Liberal MP Tony Smith, who has questioned Mr Stevens at hearings of Parliament's economics committee, said his fellow committee members must take up Mr Stevens's offer to make a special appearance to answer questions and table documents. ''This must happen. It would be ridiculous if further questioning was postponed on this,'' Mr Smith said. The chairwoman of the committee, the Labor MP Julie Owens, declined to comment on the prospect of recalling Mr Stevens.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, have refused to comment on the scandal and have supported Mr Stevens's handling of it.
But the Greens MP Adam Bandt has reiterated his call for a royal commission into the scandal to uncover ''who knew what when at the highest level of the RBA''.
The independent senator Nick Xenophon has called for a full parliamentary inquiry.
Last month Mr Stevens told the committee the Reserve did not know of the corruption concerns until they were exposed in the media and that the bank had given relevant documents to the federal police in a timely manner.
However, confidential Reserve files reveal that during 2007, Mr Campbell was told that a ''further $492k'' was given to a Malaysian arms dealer, Abdul Kayam, in hidden commissions.
Later that year, the dual chairman of NPA and Securency, Graeme Thompson, who is a former Reserve deputy governor, ''advised the [NPA] board that Securency would, on the basis of legal advice received, pay the agent [Mr Kayam] the amount of commission included in the substrate price recovered from NPA'', board records reveal.