Transparency International Malaysia President Muhammad Mohan has called upon the Minister of Law Dato’ Takiyuddin Bin Hassan to take steps to gazette the Corporate Liability Provision Section 17A to come into operation this June 2020 as has been earlier promised. By doing this the Attorney General’s chambers will be able to publish in the Federal Government Gazette for this provision to come into force.
Under this provision, a Commercial Organization commits an offence if any person associated with the organization corruptly gives or agrees to give gratification for the benefit of another person with the intent of retaining the business or gaining an advantage for the Commercial Organization.
Since the amendment to the MACC Act in April 2018 was done by the Barisan Nasional government to include this new provision, MACC has been aggressively advocating and educating commercial organizations throughout the country on their compliance with this provision. In fact many companies have adopted the Ministerial Guidelines provided on adequate procedures and have put in place controls for good governance to prevent corruption. The government and MACC should continue with this momentum as this is a very effective step to fight against corruption being part of Malaysia’s corporate culture.
A survey done by MICG (Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance) on 100 companies indicates that only 54% of the companies surveyed are ready with adequate procedures however it is a good indication that companies have recognised
what is Corporate Liability and why they need to have adequate procedures. There is no reason to wait any longer to bring this provision into force or all the good work done so far will come to naught and companies may begin to waver in putting in place their adequate procedures to prevent corruption in their organisation.
MACC should use the UK as an example. When the UK Bribery Act 2010 with an equivalent provision came into force in 2011, the first conviction only came 5 years later. Hence bearing in mind this lead time TI-Malaysia urges the government to bring 17A into force quickly while MACC should continue with its good work by educating all commercial organizations to have adequate procedures to prevent individuals associated with them from committing acts of corruption.
On the recent suggestion on the need to have a provision for DPA (Deferred Prosecution Agreement) in the Criminal Procedure Code, TI-Malaysia fully supports this because such an agreement under the supervision of a judge will not only save the court’s time but would also allow companies to reflect back on what happened and gives the company a second chance to make good on what went wrong after the prosecution and the defence have agreed on the penalty. Such a provision will add bite to the Corporate Liability and work hand in hand with to make companies be concerned in the fight against corruption.
On the call by some that the enforcement of this new provision in the MACC Act should be postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused business interruption to many companies and they will not be ready by June 2020, MACC may take this into consideration but one year is definitely too long – in fact the COVID-19 pandemic itself may be a cause for corruption as various parties become desperate and will commit bribery to gain commercial advantage and benefit!
The provision must come into force latest within this year so that corruption will not find a foothold in the midst of the looming economic crisis. TI-Malaysia strongly urges MACC and the Government to move ahead as quickly as possible to enforce this Corporate Liability provision as it is needed now more than ever before!
Note to Editors: For clarification on any and all official statements from Transparency International –
Malaysia (TI-M), kindly refer to its President, Dr Muhammad Mohan (firstname.lastname@example.org)