No corporate companies off the hook for bribery under new law

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 20): Corporate companies have been urged to have preventive measures in place before the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill 2018 comes into full enactment in 2020.

Speaking to the press today, Corporate Anti-Corruption Compliance Centre (CACCC) chief executive officer Datuk Ganason Periathamby said the new provision under Section 17(A) of the MACC Act 2009 — passed by the Dewan Rakyat in April — has a scope wide enough that criminalises commercial organisations of all sizes for any corrupt practices found.

“We had been asking for this tabling for at least four years. Now like it or not, the Bill is here to stay, and nobody is running away from corporate liability. 

“The cost of corruption is quite staggering. The message we wanted to send out to the corporate sector here is that corporate liability for corruption offences is about preventing it,” Ganason said.

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 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 bribery offences, which may otherwise result in a fine or imprisonment, is that adequate preventive measures were in place, he said. 

Ganason therefore strongly 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. 

Other initiatives are the Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS) ISO 37001 and the Corruption Risk Management (CRM) instrument.

“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 (MACA) to provide training for organisations within both the public and corporate sectors.

The Centre will be holding a half-day seminar on Oct 10 at Putrajaya International Convention Centre, to better educate the business community.