Is the existing law still relevant in eradicating corruption and abuse of power especially for cases involving white-collar crime?
First of all, we have to admit that white-collar crime is more brutal that violent crime. This is because the actions of one or a few corrupt public officials and corrupt businessmen can affect the livelihood of thousands, even millions of people. In China, white-collar crime criminalscan be given the deadth penalty. Stiffer penalties can thus also serve as a deterrent.
When Bank Rakyat’s chairman was charged with abetting the bank’ managing director in Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) of almost RM15 million. Under section 409 of the Penal Code, it relates to CBT by a public servant or agent, which is punishable with a jail term of atleast two years or up to 20 years with whipping and a fine.
It is high time that punishment for cases involving white-collar crime, including corruption be reviewed to provide for a heavier sentence because existing penalties have no effect on offenders. The fines ranging between RM50,000 to RM100,000 are no longer relevant since the culprits could earn millions of ringgit through corruption and abuse of power. The impact of such crime results in not only loss of the country’s treasures but also can destroy the environment and endanger lives.
Even The MACC Act 2009 came into affect on January 1, 2009 and oficially established but in fact, it appears that MACC is not fully or really an independent commission and still reports to the Prime Minister. The Act also reduced the penalty for offenders compared to the previous legislation so there is no drastic change. By right the penalty in the MACC Act should be more severe.
The US Foreign Corrupt Practises Act and the UK Anti-Bribery Act have extra-territorial jurisdiction and hold corporations liable for corrupt acts of their employees and that of their subsidiaries. But under the MACC Act, only individuals such as employees are liable for bribery offences under the Act so there is something wrong over there. Malaysia will be move in the right direction if we follow in these footsteps because once such amendments are made, companies can be held responsible if their employees commit bribery, unless they can prove that they had taken measures to prevent it.
The PwC’s Global Economic Crime Survey in 2016 found that bribery and corruption increased from 19% in 2014 to 30% in 2016. Based on that findings, corporate liability needs to be introduced so that companies can be held responsible for offences committed by their employees and be prompted to ensure their business entities are transparent and corruption free.
Such an amendment would also strongly encourage companies to immediately revise their standard operating procedures to ensure their employees and agents are trained on ethics and integrity and also promote good governance or risk being fined by the authorities. The Conlusion is we have a long way to go in our journey to purge corruption, but carry on we must.
Mohamad Firzan Hakimi Bin Zulpakar
Member of the Central Leadership Council
Mahasiswa Keadilan Malaysia (MKM)