Central bank governor Glenn Stevens concedes the authority could have better handled allegations of corruption at its two note-making firms, but isn't considering stepping down before his term ends next year.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) chief on Friday faced an ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the commonwealth's overseas law enforcement operations, which largely raked over the bribery scandal that has engulfed the bank for more than three years.
Agents of the RBA's wholly-owned subsidiary, Note Printing Australia (NPA), and part-owned note-making firm, Securency, have been accused of offering bribes to overseas officials to gain business.
Internal investigations of the two companies in 2007 after a whistleblower alleged corruption at NPA found no wrongdoing, and it was not until 2009 that the RBA brought in the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
Mr Stevens said he deeply regretted that the governance arrangements in the companies did not prove strong enough to detect and prevent the events that occurred.
"To the best of our knowledge the companies had appropriate policies, but clearly in the end if these matters occurred then one can only conclude for all that ... it wasn't good enough. There is no way around that," Mr Stevens told the hearing in Canberra.
He also told the joint committee on the Australia commission for law enforcement integrity that the two companies had since done a great deal of work to reform policies and compliance.
"A key learning point for the Reserve Bank from these events is the extent of possible risks that can come from operating commercial ventures which export to a range of foreign jurisdictions," he said.
"This has caused the Reserve Bank to re-evaluate its risk appetite insofar as such entities are concerned."
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne, a committee member, questioned whether the RBA was naive or had turned a blind eye to corrupt acts because of the difficult jurisdictions in which the companies were working.
"I really think the Australian community is going to be wondering how we have such a failure of governance at the corporate level inside the Reserve Bank," she told reporters outside the hearing.
But Mr Stevens dismissed reports he was considering an early exit from his position as the RBA's boss.
"The mooted idea that I would retire at the end of my seven-year term, that that's an early exit, strikes me as a little odd," Mr Stevens said.
"But it won't be before then."
Mr Stevens seven-year term ends in September next year.
Millions of dollars were paid to the agents of NPA and Securency, but former deputy governor Ric Battellino told the hearing every company in Australia pays commissions.
"I know the word secret gets thrown in there, but there is nothing secret about it. It was there in the contract," he said.
The agents were paid to market products in the relevant countries.
However, he said the episode showed that economic policy institutions like the RBA don't have any business being involved in commercial operations, and why the RBA has been trying to sell its share in Securency for two years.
"It's imperative that the (Reserve) Bank get out of that," he said.