Unmasking corruption: the fight for transparency
The Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions index for 2022 ranked Thailand 101st out of 180 countries and territories, signaling an ongoing struggle in the battle against corruption. As Thailand strives to cleanse its system, two recent high-profile cases have captured the nation’s attention, shedding light on the magnitude of this issue. Recent cases have seized the public’s imagination such as the scandal surrounding the Waterfront Suites and Residences or the corruption among officials in the country’s national parks.
In response to these high-profile cases and the broader issue of corruption, the Thai government has been diligently expanding its anti-corruption regulations over time. This expanded effort reaches beyond the public sector, now encompassing the private sector as well. Corporations found in breach of these regulations face the grim specter of criminal liability and substantial fines.
The legal framework: anti-corruption regulations in Thailand
In Thailand’s fight against corruption, the pivotal legal framework is shaped by the Organic Act on Anti-Corruption B.E. 2561 (2018), commonly referred to as the “New Anti-Corruption Act.” This law supersedes the 1999 Organic Act on Combating Corruption (“Old OACC”) and its subsequent amendments.
Under the New Anti-Corruption Act, a profound transformation has occurred. It holds corporations accountable as legal entities, subject to sanctions for involvement in bribery. This extends culpability to employees, joint venture partners, and supply chain companies associated with these corporations.
Additionally, a crucial amendment within the New Anti-Corruption Act broadens its reach to encompass foreign legal entities. This ensures that foreign-based corporations operating within Thailand fall within the purview of these anti-corruption regulations.
Another integral component of Thailand’s anti-corruption efforts is the Public Procurement Act, also known as the General Procurement Law. Recognizing the susceptibility of public procurement to corruption and bribery, this law establishes specific rules for public officials engaged in procurement activities.
Similar to the internal anti-corruption control measures within the New Anti-Corruption Act, the Public Procurement Act enforces comparable prerequisites. It mandates that businesses participating in public procurement for projects exceeding THB 500 million (approximately USD 15 million) must develop anti-corruption policies and implement the requisite internal anti-corruption control measures.
The role of internal anti-corruption control measures
Internal anti-corruption control measures are pivotal in safeguarding businesses, their officials, and associated individuals from the damaging repercussions of corruption and bribery cases. While these regulations do not explicitly delineate these measures, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NAAC) in Thailand has issued guidelines outlining eight fundamental elements.
One of these fundamental elements is a communication mechanism that supports reporting allegations of bribery. Whistleblowing systems have emerged as a vital tool in fulfilling this requirement, proving highly effective in the early detection of fraudulent activities.
Whistleblowing for transparency
A survey conducted in 2020 revealed that 33% of Thai companies were impacted by fraud, corruption, or other economic crimes over the previous two years. Almost a third of these crimes were unveiled through reports submitted by individuals, either through informal channels (20%) or formal whistleblowing hotlines (10%).
Regrettably, numerous organizations continue to underemphasize the importance of transparent reporting channels. Instead of offering easily accessible channels, they bury the reporting mechanisms deep within their websites or obscure policy documents, making them hard for the public to locate. Moreover, some of these organizations demand personal details like full names or email addresses, neglecting to provide whistleblowers the essential options for confidentiality and anonymity.
Adhering to ISO 37002:2021 guidelines on whistleblowing management systems is highly recommended. It’s also advisable for organizations to entrust their whistleblowing channels to independent third parties. Doing so not only ensures the security of the reports but also bolsters stakeholder and public confidence in the safety and integrity of the reporting process.
As compliance to law and good practices become more stringent, implementing a whistleblowing system such as Canary Whistleblowing System is increasingly crucial for companies. By adopting these reporting systems, businesses embrace the principles of transparency. Whistleblowing offers a secure and comfortable platform for individuals to express their concerns, ultimately contributing to a cleaner, more transparent business environment.