MACC educating businesses ahead of new corporate corruption clause in 2020

MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya addresses a press conference at MACC headquarters in Putrajaya June 21, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May
MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya addresses a press conference at MACC headquarters in Putrajaya June 21, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has embarked on an awareness programme ahead of the June 2020 enforcement date of a new legal provision — Section 17A of the MACC Act 2009 — to tackle corporate corruption.

Its chief Latheefa Koya told Malay Mail that while ignorance of the law is not a legit defence, the commission aims to educate corporate entities, instead of springing an unpleasant surprise on them.

“You see the thing is it will only be effective on June 1, 2020. Actually, we are having a special session to create awareness,” she said in a recent interview.

“The MACC is definitely going to start on an awareness campaign for people to understand what Section 17A is all about. Although ignorance of the law is not a reason, but when you introduce new laws, it must have context and I think there are a lot of people who are unclear on how this is going to take effect.

“So definitely the MACC will be doing some awareness campaign. There should be some kind of period for them to get used to it, but it is something in the works in our programmes.” Latheefa said.

She said that the MACC has currently been conducting briefing sessions for certain targeted sectors, and has also been accepting invitations from companies to attend private briefing session.

“Some we actually provide, and we have also taken up columns in the media to explain what it is all about actually,” she added.

Latheefa pointed out that there must be a proper understanding of the law as it details a new form of liability.

“So, of course, the impact is going to be very obvious and it is going to affect, whether positively or negatively, there will be some impact on how companies are run, businesses, investments and all that.

“So there must be some understanding, before people start fearing for the wrong things and all. That’s part of the reason why we are giving them some space,” the former human rights lawyer said.

The nation’s graftbusters have just 13 months beginning May this year, to familiarise themselves with the Section 17A, a clause introduced last year that specially makes companies liable for corrupt acts.

Section 17A, which was passed in Parliament on April 5 last year, provides that a commercial organisation commits an offence if any person associated with it commits a corrupt act in order to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business for the commercial organisation.

MACC deputy commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki was previously reported saying that his officers were still studying and preparing to investigate crimes under the section on corporate corruption.

As part of their preparation, he reportedly said that the MACC has also engaged the assistance of “certain experts” while training and preparing their officers with the knowledge to conduct corporate investigations. promising that there will be improvements for MACC once the law is enforced.