PETALING JAYA: Anti-graft bodies say use of a deferred prosecution agreement can be a good tool to combat corruption provided that the government sets clear guidelines in determining its criteria and limitations.
Pushpan Murugiah, CEO of the C4 anti-corruption centre, said deferred prosecution should be implemented in tandem with existing provisions rather than being relied on as the only form of legal recourse.
“The government should outline a tangible policy that clearly defines the criteria and limits of the deferred prosecution agreement,” he said.
“One of the key components is that there must be an admission of guilt by the company that an offence has been committed,” he told FMT.
A deferred prosecution agreement is a voluntary agreement between a prosecutor and an organisation that allows for the suspension or deferral of prosecution upon meeting specific conditions like the payment of fines or surrender of illicit funds.
MACC chief Azam Baki was quoted recently as saying that use of the mechanism, used in countries such as the US, France, Canada, Singapore, and Australia, could streamline prosecution by avoiding lengthy, cumbersome, and costly trials.
Pushpan said organisations could be compelled to return any funds accumulated through illicit means and minimise the harm caused by acts of corruption.
“In cases such as government procurement, where monies have been paid but the contractors did not fulfil deliverables, it would be beneficial to recover the monies paid out so it can be redirected into projects that can benefit society,” he said.
Malaysian Corruption Watch president Jais Abdul Karim said that the mechanism could also encourage compliance, giving companies an incentive to cooperate and implement internal reforms. It could also prevent future misconduct.
He suggested that individuals also be allowed to make use of the mechanism on a case-by-case basis.
“Exclusivity to companies may not make sense in cases where individuals are the primary culprits,” Jais said.