ASX boss Elmer Funke Kupper quits as payment to Cambodian PM investigated

Last week Tabcorp said it had looked at entering the Cambodian sports betting market but ultimately never did

The boss of Australia’s stock exchange has quit just days after police began investigating allegations of bribery involving the Cambodian prime minister’s family at a company he used to run. Elmer Funke Kupper’s resignation was effective immediately, the ASX said.

Dutch-born Mr Funke Kupper, 50, headed Tabcorp, a gambling company, between 2007 and joining ASX in 2011. Last week it emerged that Tabcorp was under investigation over a payment relating to a business opportunity in Cambodia in 2009.

Media reports alleged that an A$200,000 (£105,000) payment was made to the family of Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen when Tabcorp was considering launching an online betting business there.

Last week Tabcorp said it had looked at entering the Cambodian sports betting market but ultimately never did. It said it would “fully co-operate” with the inquiry. The ASX chairman, Rick Holliday-Smith said the board had “accepted that Elmer wanted to direct his full focus to the investigations which may be made into the Tabcorp matter” and did not want them interfering with the role of leading the ASX. Mr Holliday-Smith will take on his duties until a successor is found.

Mr Funke Kupper, who had earned $3.5m a year, had remained a director at Tabcorp since taking over at  the world’s eighth-largest stock exchange by free float capital.

“I have done this [resigned] in the interests of good corporate governance and the interests of strict process. I have taken this step so that the company is able to build its future,” Mr Funke Kupper said.

“This is highly unusual. My name has not been mentioned. I have not been told I am being investigated. My job is to take control of the situation.”

Five days ago the ASX boss told an Australian newspaper that he had no intention of stepping down from the Tabcorp board, while Mr Holliday-Smith also said he was “not aware of any reason” Mr Funke Kupper should step down from his role that ASX.

Mr Funke Kupper previously held several senior positions at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group.

He is the highest profile Australian business leader to lose his job over bribery allegations since executives at wheat exporter AWB stepped down a decade ago, amid accusations of paying off Saddam Hussein’s government to do business in Iraq.

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