(Updated)

Offshore vessel company first to be charged with MACC Act's new corporate liability provision

(Photo by Mohd Suhaimi Mohamed Yusuf/The Edge)

(Photo by Mohd Suhaimi Mohamed Yusuf/The Edge)

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SHAH ALAM (March 18): An offshore vessel support company has become the first company in Malaysia to be charged with a newly introduced provision which imposes corporate liability under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009.

Pristine Offshore Sdn Bhd was charged today with one count of bribery involving RM321,350 to ensure that it was awarded with a subcontract from Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd.

The company was charged under Section 17A of the MACC Act 2009, which came into effect on June 1, 2020. With the introduction of the amendment, the MACC is now able to directly impose corporate liability on commercial organisations, including public and private limited companies whose employees or associated persons are involved in corrupt practices or dishonest commercial misconduct.

Along with the company, its former director Chew Ben Ben was also charged with one count of bribery, framed under Section 16(b)(A) of the MACC Act 2009. 

According to the charge sheet, the bribe was allegedly given to one Mazrin Ramli, the chief operating officer (COO) of Deleum Primera Sdn Bhd, as a reward to ensure Pristine Offshore was awarded with the subcontract from Petronas Carigali.

Note that Mazrin is one of the senior executives of Deleum Primera, a 60%-owned unit of public-listed company Deleum Bhd, who are currently facing a RM19.88 million civil suit over an alleged scheme to defraud the company. 

Deleum Primera filed the suit against four of its own senior executives, as well as against two Petronas Carigali tender evaluation committee members and three of its subcontractor companies for the purported breach of fiduciary duty. 

Meanwhile, in this case, the subcontract that was promised to Pristine Offshore was for the provision of workboat, master and crew and other associated marine services and offshore support related to the workboat, together with other marine support spread for maintenance, construction and modification services for Petronas Carigali. 

The offence was allegedly committed between Jun 29 and Oct 14 last year in Kinrara Niaga 3, Puchong. 

Both of the accused pleaded not guilty after the charges were read out to them before Sessions Court Judge Rozilah Salleh. Pristine Offshore's current director Datuk Abdul Kamal Mohd Mydeen showed up on behalf of the company today.

If convicted, Pristine Offshore faces a fine of no less than 10 times the amount of the bribe or a prison sentence of not more than 20 years. According to the Companies Act 2016, any officers of the company, including directors and the company secretary, are liable to serve the prison sentence on behalf of the company. 

As for Chew, he may be imprisoned for no longer than 20 years, and fined no less than five times the amount of the bribe if found guilty.

Judge Rozilah set bail at RM150,000 for Chew and RM200,000 for Pristine Offshore with one surety. Chew also had to surrender his passport to the court. 

Both of the accused were represented by Bernard Francis & Associates, while the prosecution was led by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ahmad Akram Gharib.

It is worth noting that Chew is also the deputy managing director of Datasonic Group Bhd who previously testified in the corruption trial of former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Chew was brought into the trial as a prosecution witness to testify on an alleged RM6 million bribe that Datasonic gave to Zahid in 2017. However, Chew claimed that the payment was in fact a political donation to the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition for the 14th general election (GE14). 

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