Your Letters

Time to review laws to curb corporate bribery

Professor Walter Woon's view that employees who give bribes in the course of their work stand to benefit from such conduct and that the "no personal gain" argument generally should not apply to them is one I agree with (Punishing corporate corruption; April 30).

And yes, the individuals involved should be held accountable.

As for whether the existing toolkit suffices is something that warrants discussion.

Singapore's laws on corporate bribery could possibly be strengthened. The maximum fine of $100,000 under the Prevention of Corruption Act is far too low to effectively deal with major corporate corruption, even taking into account the possibility of charging multiple instances of bribery.

Also, the test for when criminal conduct can be imputed to a corporation is too narrow. The current test requires that the individual be the "embodiment of the company" or its "directing mind and will" or a person whose acts "are within the scope of the function of management properly delegated to him". It catches top management but does not descend enough into the regular operations of large corporate groups and may render prosecuting a corporation difficult.

By contrast, in cases of money laundering, the attribution rule is much wider - any conduct engaged in by a director, employee or agent within the scope of his actual or apparent authority is deemed to be engaged in by the corporation.

Singapore may wish to consider whether to institute a regime where firms have some legal duty to institute policies to prevent bribery. This is the case under, for example, the Bribery Act in Britain.

The Government has indicated in recent years that the Prevention of Corruption Act should be reviewed. This is timely.

Nigel Yeoh Lian Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 06, 2018, with the headline 'Time to review laws to curb corporate bribery'. Print Edition | Subscribe