As a Fulbright Scholar, Edmund Bao (BComm '14, LLB (Hons) '15) is preparing to undertake a Master of Laws (LLM) at Stanford University in International Economic Law, Business and Policy. Edmund hopes to use his Fulbright Scholarship to explore the trans-nationalisation of global anti-corruption frameworks and their effect on regional investment initiatives.
“Corruption is an issue of key relevance to Australia and the region,” says Edmund. “Foreign bribery is a major threat to Australian businesses engaging in regional trade and investment. Australia’s systems and practices, enforcement record and investigative capabilities have been criticised as deficient by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).”
At Stanford, Edmund intends to undertake a comparative study of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) with Australia’s anti-corruption regime.
“The FCPA is the most comprehensive and rigorously enforced extra-territorial foreign anti-corruption framework. By studying the FCPA, we are able to further understand how foreign anti-corruption laws can be designed domestically and regulated internationally,” he says.
Edmund believes that the Stanford LLM’s interdisciplinary focus will give him a deeper understanding of the US regulatory framework underpinning the issue.
“Corruption is not responsive to traditional, linear methods of regulation. It is a complex, polycentric issue that transcends borders, people groups and cultures. Effective international regulation of corruption requires accounting for cultural, political and economic differences, not to mention the challenges brought about by state sovereignty and international trade and investment frameworks,” Edmund says.
“The Stanford LLM is multidisciplinary and immensely practical. Identifying the drivers of corruption requires interdisciplinary knowledge and an understanding of sociological perspectives. The design of effective anti-corruption frameworks requires practical structure combined with technical innovation. I hope to contribute to Stanford’s Rock Centre for Corporate Governance, the FCPA Clearinghouse and the Hasso Plattner Institute.”
Edmund credits The Australian National University (ANU) College of Law academics for his success.
“Associate Professor Kath Hall encouraged me to publish my thesis on global anti-corruption conventions. Senior Lecturer Joshua Neoh has been tremendously supportive of a multi-year project exploring the intersection of jurisprudence with Christian theology. I am grateful to Kath and Joshua for their guidance in my academic and professional endeavours,” he says.
Since graduating from ANU, Edmund has worked at King & Wood Mallesons in the practice areas of international arbitration and corporate governance. His experience includes complex cross-border regulatory matters involving multi-national bribery and money-laundering investigations, as well as international arbitrations involving corruption, fraud, deceit and contractual misrepresentation.
Edmund has combined his legal practice with a passion for research, having co-authored numerous academic works including journal articles, book chapters and commentary. He has published in the Australian Year Book of International Law, World Arbitration Reporter, Oxford’s Arbitration International and the Company and Securities Law Journal. His legal commentary has been cited by Kluwer Arbitration, the ASEAN Post, The Global Anti-Corruption Blog and the Legal Theory Blog.
Lastly, while the Fulbright creates a wealth of opportunities, Edmund is conscious of the responsibility it entails.
“As class speaker at the ANU graduation ceremony, I stated that more than ever before there is a need for the ability to think critically, to engage boldly and to solve problems elegantly. I pointed out that the privilege of a legal education carries a heavy responsibility to advocate for better social change. The Fulbright program reflects these aims,” says Edmund.
“The continuing search for solutions to complex problems is one of the enduring strengths of the rule of law and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute towards that goal.”