Azam Baki says DPA will help MACC fight financial crimes, ensure faster recovery of assets

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki said having a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) in place would allow prosecutors to focus on getting outcomes without having to go through long, tedious and expensive trials.

The Star reported Azam saying that the DPA will be a game changer for the MACC.

“This is the way forward for us to fight economic and financial crimes.

“By having this mechanism in place, we can ensure faster recovery of assets and funds, and better compliance by the persons or entities to prevent future violations.

“If a DPA is put in place, we might be able to recover more stolen billions belonging to the rakyat at an even faster rate,” Azam was quoted as saying in the English daily today.

Azam was commenting on MACC adopting the DPA as a mechanism within the MACC Act.

A DPA is a voluntary agreement reached between a prosecutor and an organisation facing financial crime charges to allow the prosecution to be suspended or deferred, provided the organisation fulfills specified conditions.

Under a DPA, the conditions stipulated can be in the form of payment of a monetary fine, disgorgement of monies associated with the offence, and monitoring by regulatory agencies.

Azam, who is expected to retire in May next year, said the immediate aim is for the DPA to be incorporated into the MACC Act by next year.

He will personally see to its implementation before his retirement.

Azam explained that the DPA could be used for fraud, bribery and other economic crimes.

However, he said that this option is only for companies and not individuals.

“The agreement can be used to compel offenders to pay up and this can be revenue to the government,” he said.

Azam cited the Airbus scandal about three years ago as a notable case involving the usage of DPA.

In 2020, Airbus, Europe’s largest aerospace multinational, paid a record £3 billion (RM17.4 billion) in penalties after admitting it had given out huge bribes on an “endemic” basis to land contracts in 20 countries.

Anti-corruption investigators hailed the result as the largest-ever corporate fine for bribery in the world. Airbus agreed to pay the penalties after reaching settlements with investigators in the UK, France and the US to end inquiries that started four years ago.

At present, Australia, Canada, France, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States are some of the countries that have the DPA mechanism.

Azam pointed out that more countries are considering having the DPA mechanism and Malaysia should also consider having it in place.

He said the MACC had proposed for the mechanism to be introduced in 2019 and the then government had asked for a study to be carried out.

“We are in the midst of benchmarking with other countries. A team will be heading to the United Kingdom and they will come back with a proposal.

“Once we have fine-tuned it, the proposal will be presented to the Cabinet for approval,” he told The Star.

On a separate matter, Azam said that the MACC achieved an “exceptional” record in the forfeiture and asset recovery for last year, totalling RM149,695,341 (about RM150 million).

In addition to that, he said compounds issued under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing, and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act worth RM44,454,800 were collected.

Azam said the highest collection of RM64,386,825 came from special operations conducted to forfeit assets related to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) financial scandal which had been returned to the government.

He said this was possible due to the strategic cooperation between the MACC and the US Department of Justice, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).