Enforce corporate corruption law now, urges governance group

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Azam Baki says companies want a grace period of a year before MACC implements Section 17A of the Act which deals with corporate liability.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance (MICG) has urged Putrajaya to proceed with the implementation of a law that would see business entities being charged for corrupt practices.

MICG president Yusli Mohd Yusoff said the government should reject proposals to defer implementing Section 17A of the MACC Act, which was supposed to be enforced on June 1.

Yusli said the argument that companies were not prepared for the enforcement was not well-founded, adding that delays will negate the country’s international standing in terms of corporate governance.

He said this could deter future foreign investments and make it harder for the country to recover from the current economic downturn.

He highlighted that the MACC (Amendment) 2018 Act was passed and gazetted in May 2018 and had come into effect in October the same year, except Section 4.

“That means companies have had 25 months to prepare to ensure compliance with the Act. The loss of 10 weeks to Covid-19, should the MCO continue till the end of May 2020, is of little significance in such a timeline.

“Most companies that were unprepared before the commencement of the MCO would have remained so in any case,” he said in a statement today.

Yesterday, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Azam Baki said it would study a proposal to suspend the implementation of Section 17A of the Act.

“They (businesses) are asking for a period of one year to re-establish their businesses before the implementation of Section 17A,” Azam said.

Earlier today, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) urged Putrajaya not to delay gazetting the law, highlighting that the section prompted companies to implement guidelines to curb corruption.

Yusli said times of economic stress always tempted some to cut corners, stressing the need for the Act to be enforced as planned.

He also called on board members and senior management of companies to champion business integrity and ethics instead of looking for a way out of the Act.

“Postponing the enforcement of corporate liability will appear to be enabling the very behaviour the Act seeks to forbid,” he said.

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