The Unmask the Corrupt (UtC) campaign was officially launched in Malaysia on the 2nd September, following on from Transparency International’s (TI) international launch on 1st September in Switzerland.
In his opening speech, Transparency International-Malaysia’s (TI-M) President, Dato’ Akhbar Satar stated,
TI-M calls on our government to advance the struggle against impunity, there is much work to be done to address illicit money outflows, money laundering and eliminate secret tax havens and opaque beneficial ownership … TI-M will work to establish a Civil Society Organization (CSO) coalition to work together and draw on each other’s expertise and knowledge to achieve the objective of the campaign, calling on the government to unmask the corrupt.
Dato’ Akhbar’s key note address was followed by a presentation on ‘Beneficial Ownership in the Context of Malaysia’, by a leading expert in the field, Professor Dr. Edmund Terance Gomez. A Professor of Political Economy at the University of Malaya, Professor Gomez highlighted the importance in addressing the following factors when dealing with corruption, selective patronage and money laundering in Malaysia:
- Who owns and controls private exempt companies (PECs) and to what extent are they mere proxies?
- What is the nature of the relationship between political leaders and corporate figures and how does this relationship influence business activities?
- Public governance must be a prime focus in addition to corporate governance, due to the evolution of control of Malaysia’s banking sector.
A panel of distinguished speakers also took to the stage, sharing their expertise on issues pertaining to the UtC campaign in Malaysia.
Mr Ravindran Devagunam, Director of the Performance Management Delivery Unit (PEMANDU), shared current initiatives being undertaken by the government to curb illicit outflow stemming from illegal gambling and foreign labour applications. Mr Christopher Leong, President of the Malaysian Bar stressed how current Malaysian legislation is highly protective of individual privacy. He addressed how Malaysia’s Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act is effective in providing a paper trail, but more needs to be done beyond the Act to curb corruption. Mr Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Founding Chief Executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), proposed the need to utilize the Open Government Partnership to institutionalize discussions and collaborations between government and civil society. From the Malaysian Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Vice-President Mr Yunus Bin Yusop provided a succinct overview on the requirement for banks to conduct enhanced due diligence on local politically exposed persons (PEPs) as well as on foreign PEPs. He highlighted how reporting suspicious activity of local PEPs to the banking sector, is however, problematic due to political influence over the financial institution.
Beyond the establishment of a CSO coalition, President Datio’ Akhbar stated an open letter to government will be submitted along with the launch of a public petition to give strength to the campaign.
The UtC national launch was the kick start to a global TI 24 month initiative to call on political leaders to ‘Unmask the Corrupt’ and target impunity for corruption. Please continue to follow the progress of the launch on:
Twitter : @TI_Malaysia
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/timalaysia
TI’s Website (Unmask the Corrupt) : http://www.transparency.org/unmask_the_corrupt
TI-M’s Website (Unmask the Corrupt) : http://transparency.org.my/what-we-do/unmask-the-corrupt/