Companies to be held liable for employees who commit graft

Companies to be held liable for employees who commit graft
Screengrab of a video: MACC deputy commissioner Datuk Sutinah Sutan talking about Zero corruption policies

PUTRAJAYA: Company bosses and their firms will be liable if their workers were found to have committed graft under a planned addition to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.

MACC deputy commissioner Datuk Sutinah Sutan said board members, chief executive officers and companies would be held responsible for bribes given by their employees under the new "corporate liability law" provision in the Act.

"In the past, only company personnel or officers were held liable for corruption.

"We are hoping this new provision will give us more leeway to go after the companies themselves," she said, explaining that the MACC would take action against domestic or multi-national companies regardless of their country of origin.

Citing a case in Germany, Sutinah said engineering and electronics company Siemens had to pay hefty fines for bribing government officials of another country.

She added that while this was still in the proposal stage, the Attorney-General's Chambers is studying the suitability of including the provision in the MACC Act.

"Once passed in Parliament, it will mark a new age in the country's war against corruption," she said in an interview at the MACC headquarters in conjunction with the commission's 46th anniversary.

Sutinah said the MACC had proposed to the Government last year to amend the MACC Act to include the provision, adding the commission could not currently prosecute companies for corruption as the law only enables action against individuals.

Touching on the challenges faced by the MACC, Sutinah said the commission found 75 per cent of the people are willing to lodge reports on corrupt practices but only a handful were willing to become witnesses.

"We need corroborative statements from witnesses to ensure a foolproof case.

"The cases must be beyond a shadow of a doubt to ensure convictions," she said, adding that the Witness Protection Act and the Whistleblower Act provided informants and witnesses adequate protection against harassment or intimidation from the accused party.

Sutinah revealed that 18 special courts to hear corruption cases had been set up nationwide since 2011 and convictions up to June this year had increased 89 per cent.

"The courts provide speedier trials. Prior to 2011, cases took five to seven years to conclude but now it takes less than a year," she said.

Sutinah said the MACC investigated 5,496 cases last year, 6,475 cases in 2011, 5,646 in 2010 and 5,936 in 2009.

She said the MACC received between 12,000 and 13,000 reports of corruption each year but only half of them are actual corruption cases.

She added that since 2009 the MACC had carried out a transformation programme covering operations, human resources and prevention.

Sutinah said MACC investigations are team-based, which shortens the probe period.

"A case can be completed within a month as there is a team instead of an invidual taking charge of an investigation.

"In the past, an investigation took between two and three years to complete," she said.

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