Prevention the only defence against graft

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 21, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Corporate companies have been urged to have preventive measures in place before the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill 2018 comes into full force in 2020.

Speaking to the press yesterday, Corporate Anti-Corruption Compliance Centre (CACC) chief executive officer Datuk Ganason Periathamby said the amendment — passed by the Dewan Rakyat in April — has a wide-enough scope that criminalises commercial organisations of all sizes for any corrupt practices found.

“We have been asking for this tabling for at least four years. Now, like it or not, the [new amendment] is here to stay, and nobody is running away from corporate liability,” said Ganason.

The message he hopes the new provision would send out, he said, is that it is ultimately about preventing corruption from occurring in the first place.

In criminal law, corporate liability determines the extent to which a corporation as a legal person can be liable for the acts and omissions of the natural persons it employs.

Simply put, corporate companies will be held liable, should corrupt actions be found conducted in the interest of or on behalf of the organisation; be it by its management, employees and subsidiaries, or through joint ventures, business partners and intermediaries.

The only defence available to corporate liability in the face of bribery offences, which may otherwise result in a fine or imprisonment, is that adequate preventive measures were in place, he said.

Ganason, therefore, urged commercial entities to establish proportionate or adequate anti-bribery measures that allow for the prevention, detection and eventually response, in the event of bribery occurring.

This may include preventive measures such as risk assessments, consistent monitoring and review, due diligence, communications including training, and top level commitments, he said. “More importantly, corporate leaders must communicate to downlines in the prevention of bribery,” Ganason stressed.

CACCC is a new unit established under the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Academy to provide anti-graft training for organisations within both the public and corporate sectors. CACCC will be holding a half-day seminar on Oct 10 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, to better educate the business community.