• Governance I Risk I Compliance Management

Anti-bribery and anti-corruption efforts are a huge priority in the South Asia Region, with many governments trying to strengthen laws and enhance enforcement in both their private and public sectors. As recent high-profile corruption cases in the region have demonstrated, today’s regulators are seeing the issue as a societal problem as much as a legal one. That’s why ABAC Malaysia celebrates 2021 Anti-Corruption Day to raise awareness throughout Malaysia and beyond of the risks posed by bribery and corruption. ABAC® joined forces with Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MICCI) to discuss the third-party due diligence frameworks in-depth and explore its best practices. Join Zafar Anjum MSc, MS, LLM, CFE, Intl. Dip.(Fin.Crime, AML,GRC) and Sheba Gumis in this webinar to help provide insights and ideas for your organisations’ compliance programme.

ABAC® places the focus squarely on stepping up the fight against corruption and helping position Malaysia a leader against fraud in the South Asia region.

Your right, your role: Say no to corruption Campaign 2021

This six-week campaign aims to highlight the role of key stakeholders and individuals in preventing and countering corruption in line with the theme, “Your right, your role: say no to corruption”.  The 2021 International Anti-Corruption Day seeks to highlight the rights and responsibilities of everyone – including States, Government officials, civil servants, law enforcement officers, media representatives, the private sector, civil society, academia, the public and youth – in tackling corruption.

Reducing the risks of mismanagement and corruption during the pandemic requires the involvement of strong anti-corruption bodies, better oversight over emergency support packages, more open and transparent public procurement and enhanced anti-corruption compliance by the private sector. In addition, countries also need to ensure support to and protection for whistleblowers and journalists uncovering corruption during the pandemic as well as bring their national anti-corruption frameworks in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

Efforts increase following 1MDB scandal

The high-profile push against bribery and corruption comes just a few years after the 1MDB scandal first hit the news cycles in Malaysia and, eventually, across the world. Malaysia’s state-owned investment fund, 1MDB, was created to attract foreign investment, but instead it triggered a scandal that led to criminal and regulatory investigations that continue today. “A Malaysian parliamentary committee identified at least $4.2 billion in irregular transactions related to 1MDB. In May, Najib was ousted from power in a general election as the scandal fuelled a voter backlash that ended his party’s 61 years of rule. As the investigations continue, Najib faces trial on corruption charges and U.S. prosecutors have implicated at least three senior Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers in a multiyear criminal enterprise” (Bloomberg, 2018).

After-effects from the 1MDB case spread far beyond Malaysia and the South Asia region. In the U.S., federal prosecutors announced that one of the implicated former Goldman Sachs bankers had pleaded guilty, with bribery and money laundering charges lodged against a second banker as part of the investigation.

With eyes on Malaysia due to the breadth of the 1MDB scandal, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Act 2018 was passed in April of this year – with a provision on corporate liability. The amended act gives more power to the MACC in fighting corruption in the private sector, with penalties for firms that can now be held liable if their employees commit bribery.

The new provisions are meant “to encourage business and commercial activities being carried out in a corruption-free environment; to encourage all commercial organisations to take adequate measures in order to prevent corruption in their respective organisations; and to promote better corporate governance and legal compliance by requiring corporations to take proactive roles in preventing corruption. Punishment for bribery and other corrupt acts under the amendment can include fines “of not less than 10 times the sum of value of the gratification which is the subject matter of the offence”, or one million ringgit (whichever is higher) – and can also include imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years.

What is clear to everyone, however, is that governments cannot fight the war on corruption alone. It is critical for government organisations to work hand-in-hand with private sector corporations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and nonprofits to change the culture and tolerance level of bribery and corruption along with the legal framework for prosecuting it. In today’s business landscape, companies have found that it is far better to be proactive in the fight against fraud rather than to try to sweep problems under the rug. The problem in years past was a lack of a consistent framework for organisations to follow in efforts to increase their compliance and decrease risk on their own.

ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management System

That’s why the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) issued the ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management System standard in 2016: to help organisations worldwide increase and measure their efforts against bribery and corruption. As an accredited provider of ISO 37001 training and certification, ABAC Group has been helping organisations at every level through measures that include adopting an anti-bribery policy, appointing a person to oversee anti-bribery compliance, training, risk assessments and due diligence on projects and business associates, implementing financial and commercial controls, and instituting reporting and investigation procedures. Experts in  ABAC Centre of Excellence help walk clients through specific requirements and provide guidance for establishing, implementing, maintaining, reviewing and improving an anti-bribery management system. The system can be stand-alone or can be integrated into an overall management system.

ABAC’s ISO 37001 training and certification process helps companies or government organisations reduce the risk of bribery by establishing, implementing, maintaining and enhancing internal anti-bribery and anti-corruption systems. This comprehensive protocol can:

  • Provide needed tools to prevent bribery and mitigate related risks
  • Help an organisation create new and better business partnerships with entities that recognise ISO 37001 certified status, including supply chain manufacturing, joint ventures, pending acquisitions and co-marketing alliances.
  • Potentially reduce corporate insurance premiums
  • Provide customers, stakeholders, employees and partners with confidence in the entity’s business operations and ethics
  • Provide a competitive edge over non-certified organisations the organisation’s industry or niche
  • Provide acceptable evidence to prosecutors or courts that the organisation has taken reasonable steps to prevent bribery and corruption.

Which organisations need ISO 37001?

ISO 37001 can be used by any organisation, large or small. It specifies a series of common-sense measures to help prevent, detect and address bribery that can benefit organisations of any industry or type. These include adopting an anti-bribery policy, appointing a person to oversee anti-bribery compliance, training, risk assessments and due diligence on projects and business associates, implementing financial and commercial controls, and instituting reporting and investigation procedures.

United Against Corruption helped to bring to the forefront an issue that must remain near or at the top of the priority list for most organisations in the South Asia region. With anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws and regulations changing at a rapid pace, organisations must keep up with the latest compliance requirements. In fact, many South Asia governments are trying to improve on spotty records of prevention and enforcement when it comes to bribery and corruption in both their private and public sectors. That’s why implementing a standard like ISO 37001 – Anti-bribery Management System can be invaluable to organisations that aim to have a comprehensive approach to compliance in this area.